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.
- Avoid obvious solutions to a twist’s problem; don’t give readers what they expect.
- Don’t resolve twists with coincidences.
Twist Ideas, Examples & Readers’ Questions
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Revenge presents itself. Heroine’s harassing ex uses evidence that wrongfully gets Hero arrested. How will Hero escape injustice?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
I always take the time to read your posts. Thank you for sharing.
I appreciate that, Katheryn.
Thank you some great ideas here.
Thanks, Maxine, for coming by.
As always, thank you. You are the best!
Thank you for the encouragement, Connie.
#6 Success turns out to be failure. Just watched the Verdict
Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) was once a promising graduate of Boston College Law School and a lawyer at an elite Boston law firm. But he was framed for jury tampering some years back by the firm’s senior partner because he was going to expose their corrupt practices. The firm fired him and his marriage ended in divorce. Although he retains his license to practice law, Frank has become an alcoholic ambulance chaser who has had only four cases over the last three years, all of which he has lost. And then . . .
Great example, Marcia. Kind of an opposite take: failure taking a turn toward success. Amazing that We considered watching The Verdict just last week. Now we’ll have to watch it again.