I think it’s safe to say we all love a good plot twist from time to time. When a story takes an unexpected turn, a revelation changes the way we see things, or we finally discover what is behind a mystery and are genuinely surprised we are left awed. Of course, sometimes plot twists are predictable or change a story for the worst, which can ruin a book. Either way, when someone mentions a shocking or amazing plot twist in a book, it’s very hard for me to resist picking it up. Then comes the problem: I can’t stop thinking about the plot twist while reading the book. I try to guess, pick up clues in every page, and even read faster than usual just so I can finally read the supposedly incredible revelation.
So today I thought I would talk about the positive and the negative things about plot twists and about disclosing their existence in a book. I even conducted a little poll on Twitter to find out some of your thoughts beforehand, so if you’re curious of the result, read ahead!
I love being shocked in books when it’s well done. It demonstrates an author can create a beautifully complex story right before you, keep you engaged, and then offer something very rewarding. But there are times when I read a book merely expecting everything and anything to be a clue and ruin my own experience. Discovering a plot twist ahead of time is the most frustrating thing that could happen to me. So why do I keep picking up books that offer a plot twist? Well, there are many reasons…
- I’m curious. I need to know what the mysterious plot twist is all about and be able to join the conversation.
- I like to be shocked with a story. I love reading things that pleasantly and genuinely surprise me and take me unexpected ways. It feels rewarding and it usually means the story was well crafted.
- I get to play detective. I enjoy a complex mystery that actually offers clues and foreshadowing for the reader to guess. I can almost sense Agatha Christie feeling proud of me whenever I try to solve those kinds of plot twists.
- It showcases the author’s creativity. When a plot twist manages to impress me, I admire the author and their imagination to no end.
Then, of course, there are times that I pick a book because I heard of the incredible surprise ending or shocking plot twist to find out one (or more) of these things…
- It’s predictable. Sometimes it’s because authors add overused tired tropes and still expect to shock us and other times I guess things out of pure luck or because I’ve read and seen too many mystery novels and films.
- It’s pointless. The story was okay or amazing up until the point the author decided to “shake things up” and enter a plot twist that ruined everything.
- It’s just for the shock value. This is a common one and I think it’s a very weak tactic to make people talk about your work. It usually means there’s no real substance.
- It’s distracting. As I said before, if I know there’s a plot twist, I’m going to try to figure out and I don’t focus properly on the story.
I understand when people mention there is a plot twist in the story, it sells it, but I can’t ignore the fact that it can also ruin the reading experience. I turned to my followers on Twitter with this poll and here’s what they had to say:
Well, I was surprised to find out very few people like being told there’s a plot twist in a book! Many people dislike it, but most people voted “sometimes”, which is reasonable. I guess it really depends on the book and its story. If, for example, the novel is a thriller, I find that selling the plot twist is a good way to build up the hype. On the other hand, if the book is a contemporary and they talk about ‘that ENDING’, I assume someone dies or overthink everything and it probably ruins the whole thing. So, although I love picking up books that have plot twists, I would have to side with the people that voted “sometimes” on this.