How Bad Timing Makes Great Plot Twists

How Bad Timing Makes Great Plot Twists
July 29, 2016 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Amanda Hester

Our guest post comes to you today from Our Write Side’s executive editor, A.L. Mabry.

How Bad Timing Makes Great Plot Twists

Everyone loves a good plot twist, those moments that have us on the edge of our seats with our hearts racing. You spend a number of pages becoming emotionally invested in the characters, you watch as their lives and follies unfold, and suddenly when it seems everything is perfectly in place…BAM…PLOT TWIST!

Mabry Plot Twist Quote

What Exactly is a Plot Twist?

plot twist


  1.  an unexpected development in a book, film, television program, etc.
  2. “I won’t give the big plot twist away”

How Do You Write A Good Plot Twist?

  • Build up anticipation: Build your world in such a way that it draws in your reader and provide them with characters they feel a strong connection to. Your characters should have some clear goals even if their motivations are still a mystery.
  • Avoid the obvious: When you hit that pivotal moment, that fork in the road, and the perfect next scene pops in your head…throw it away. You want to imagine every possible complication, obstacle, and solution for your characters and send them on a journey with the most unexpected one.
  • Reverse foreshadowing: Authors love dropping hints throughout a story that makes readers yell, “It all makes sense now!” I am asking you to muddy the waters a bit. Throw them off the trail and maybe even divert their attention to a literary scapegoat. Many characters can be a bit shifty, just a little untrustworthy or even underplayed so later when they show a true strength it is unexpected.
  • Keep it organic: Yes, your plot twist should be unexpected, but it should still fit realistically into the world you have built. Read that again carefully. Understand, your plot twist doesn’t have to be realistic in a literal sense, but it should be believable to the readers based on the world and characters you have created for them.

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Can I Have Too Many Plot Twists?

Is it believable? Have you lost your readers trust? Have you beat them up emotionally? These are things to consider while building your twists. There is not a rule on how many or how few, but they should flow with your story, not tear it apart.

Bad Timing

It is my opinion that some of the best plot twists come from simple bad timing. Look at Romeo and Juliet, for example. Just a little patience would have completely changed the story. One missed bus, missed email, mixed message…these are all simple twists that can potentially alter your entire story.

The end. (Bet you didn’t see that coming!)

Until next time, Scribe Happy & Sassy!

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Amanda Hester Amanda Hester is the founder and CEO of Our Write Side. As an author, she enjoys writing in all genres and forms, even grocery lists. She is an artist and Wiccan who has an obsessive love of vampires, kilts, and blue butterflies. She is passionate about many topics and her posts are often laced with the snarky sense of humor one acquires from raising five teenagers, all at once. In her downtime, she can be found with her loving husband, Shawn, exploring the wilderness. She maintains her shreds of sanity with yoga, tea, and cats.

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