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Weaving the twists and turns

One of the most mysterious things to try and pin down and study within the plot of any novel is the twist.

That moment in a book where a revelation hits us and, although it is a shocking surprise, we suddenly see that this point in time has been building throughout the plot. Suddenly we see that the build up that was leading us down one avenue was an optical illusion.

In order for the twist to work, you have to deliberately mislead your audience, but the build up, once revealed in its true light, has to also be true to the revealed twist.

So the build up lets us believe that scenario A is going to happen, but when we realise that actually scenario B is actually the case there must be evidence to support scenario B in the build up.

There's a fine balance to walk here. If you put in too much evidence pointing to scenario A alone then the audience will feel cheated when you suddenly reveal scenario B. However, if you downplay the evidence for A, and put in too much evidence ready to justify B, then many might spot the looming twist before you are ready for the revelation to occur.


The evidence for scenario A, the misleading plot we are leading our readers to think we are building towards, should all come from the main plot of the novel and from only one or two sources. This causes the reader to focus upon it and by placing the various pieces in close proximity to each other means this is all the more easy and obvious to piece together.

In order to retain feasibility, the evidence for scenario A should all be elements that could occur independently without scenario A happening, as it won't do. It just so happened that when viewed as a whole, they seem to point towards scenario A as being very likely.

In contrast, the evidence for scenario B, the looming truth we are looking to mask, should come from a range of sources and be spread out over a much longer time period. It should be buried in offhand comments, small trivial details and things only half said or seen.

Also, consider flipping the tone to further disguise the twist. If your twist is something very serious, place the evidence for it in comical and light-hearted pieces. Inversely, if the twist is to be a funny moment, place the build up material in serious statements and more straight-laced scenes.