Friday, October 22, 2010
Twists that Work
Lately, as always happens when I’m editing one of my novels, I found myself ripping apart my writing on The Queen and coming up with little hints and reminders to help me improve my writing next time around.
I’ve decided to start sharing some of these for aspiring writers, but also for readers, so that they can begin to see the process I go through as I develop my stories.
So, this time it has to do with creating satisfying twists.
While I was editing today, four truths struck me:
1 - The story that precedes the twist must stand on its own and not depend on the twist for its meaning, context or value. A twist has to be the icing on the cake and not the icing on the liver.
2 - A twist is simply something that’s unexpected. If readers see it coming, it’s not a twist, it’s a disappointment. However, it must also flow logically from what precedes it.
3 - Twists drive the story forward as long as they add layers of meaning to the preceding story-line. A twist must cause the reader to rewind the story in their minds and then replay it with the new information that the twist provides, and find that the story is deeper than they ever imagined.
4 - The bigger the twist, the more essential that the story make sense up until that point.
So here is my mini-hint, my reminder to myself: Always twist the story forward.