12 Story Plot Twist Ideas – Part 1

image by rkit

Possibly you have the big, must-have twists, such as the inciting incident at the story’s beginning, the mid-story crisis in which the protagonist realizes his underlying problem, and the black moment event near the end. But plot twists are also needed during the in-betweens.

The list below gives the first 12 plot twist ideas, examples, and the expected questions readers will have. In Part 2 next week, I’ll supply a second set.

First, here are two tips for twists in general.

Twist Tips

 

  1. Avoid obvious solutions to a twist’s problem; don’t give readers what they expect.
  1. Don’t resolve twists with coincidences.

Twist Ideas, Examples & Readers’ Questions

 

  1. image by skeeze
    An accident leads to a bad situation. The backhoe that Hero operates injures or kills a worker. Will Hero be charged? How will he deal emotionally with his part in the accident?
  2.  

    1. A place or person no longer exists. Hero has tracked a man who knows the location of the cult, but he’s dead. How can Hero find his wife now?

     

    1. An overwhelming responsibility arises. Single Hero hikes a remote spot as a last hope to deal with mounting pressures in his life. He rescues an injured three-year-old survivor of a crashed Cessna, then loses all his equipment and food. Will he give up or cope?

     

    1. The truth about biological parenthood is revealed. Hero learns his sole teenage son, who is nothing but nasty trouble, isn’t his own. Will he take the easy way out and leave?

     

    1. People think the liberator they’ve expected has come. Hero comes home to his family and an old girlfriend. He’s broke and defeated, but townspeople think he’s the one who can save their town. Will he tell the truth, take advantage of them, or run?

     

    1. Success turns out to be failure. Hero thinks he’s won Heroine, but she’s upset with how he treated the other contender. How can he show that his competition is an evil person?

     

    1. Guilt won’t let go. Hero has performed a wrong and legally gotten away with it, but guilt grows and begins to consume him. Will he do what must be done to make things right?

     

    1. An enemy is necessary. Hero’s enemy is the only one who can help him, so he allies with his enemy. What will happen after they succeed?

     

    1. image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images
      Revenge presents itself. Heroine’s harassing ex uses evidence that wrongfully gets Hero arrested. How will Hero escape injustice?

     

    1. Disbelief attacks a relationship. Hero doesn’t believe Heroine visited his enemy to help Hero’s cause. What will this do to their rocky relationship?

     

    1. Moral standards lowered to satisfy a goal. Heroine lies that her illness is terminal to keep Hero from going on a dangerous mission. Will she lose Hero when he finds out the truth?

     

    1. Temptation lures a poor choice. Just when Heroine is gaining her family’s trust by staying home more, she takes a career-promoting assignment overseas. Will her husband once again wait for her?

The first 12 story twist ideas with examples of a two-part series. Click to tweet.

What is a favorite plot twist you’ve read?

Story’s Black Moment: Make Sure It’s Black for a Red-Hot Reason

image by PublicDomainPictures
image by PublicDomainPictures

Writers hear much about the need for conflict and disasters in every scene and a black moment near the story’s two-thirds point. We don’t throw these essentials into the mix, but intentionally construct them.

image by geralt
image by geralt

Conflicts and disasters work to enhance the plot or develop characterization. The black moment forces the character to realize what the character truly yearns for, and the event calls for a life change.

 

 

Before the Black Moment

Besides a character’s outward and inward goals, the character longs for something missing in her life. Her longing is something she doesn’t realize—or doesn’t grasp how important it is to her. Usually, past experiences have caused the yearning.

image by PublicDomainPictures
image by PublicDomainPictures

Examples:

  • Amy yearns for the peace of being able to trust, or trust again.
  • Conroy longs to never have to worry about being sent away again.
  • Jenna yens to be good enough.

Since these longings are part of the character’s makeup, the reader will see hints of these yearnings throughout the story. No character or narrator will tell or explain the yearning. The hints will be shown through the character’s thoughts and actions.

During the Black Moment

The black moment is a painful event of some type that causes the character to realize his yearning and that it’s what he’s wanted all along. More than his physical goals.

image by johnhain
image by johnhain

Examples:

  • Amy’s boyfriend leaves. Sobbing, Amy realizes her mistrust has driven away her soulmate. She asks herself, would she want to marry someone who never trusted her?
  • Conroy is fired from his job for which he worked hard to please his bosses. He realizes bending backward doesn’t guarantee peace and security. His timidity may have even caused his termination.
  • The boat capsizes, and fishing line entangles Jenna’s husband. She realizes looking for help from nearby boats isn’t an option. This time, she has to be good enough or become a widow.

After the Black Moment

The realization moment must drive the character to make a decision to change, or ignore her revelation. And the decision should be more than internal reflection. She must show the change or status quo through her actions.

Examples:

  • Amy decides that trusting the hero is the only thing that will save their relationship. She goes to his apartment, where he talks with his lovely neighbor. When he sees Amy, he looks nervous. Amy’s smile is genuine, and she calmly enters into their conversation.
  • Conway decides he’s through “playing it safe” out of fear that people will reject him. He asks his girlfriend of six years to marry him.
  • image by Evaul
    image by Evaul
    Jenna decides to do the impossible and try to save her husband. She quickly ties the boat rope to her waist, dives under the water, releases his knife from its sheath, and frees his arms and legs.

 

 

A story’s black moment makes heroes realize their yearning and calls for a change. Click to tweet.

What does your story’s black moment reveal and call your character to decide?