September 30th, 2015

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Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson

Writing Excuses 10.39: Q&A on Plot Twists with Kevin J. Anderson

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/09/27/writing-excuses-10-39-qa-on-plot-twists-with-kevin-j-anderson/

Q&A Summary
Q: Genre twists as a plot twist. Good, bad, or ugly?
A: Part of the audience will love it, part will hate you forever. We can learn a lot from other genres. Make sure you fulfill promises and expectations, don't undermine them. Give hints early.
Q: Compare and contrast a situation where a plot twist came off well and one where it came off poorly. What made the difference?
A: Make sure the foreshadowing is appropriate. Good plot twists add emotional weight and meaning to the story, they add depth to the characters, they make the story better than it was. They add to the story.
Q: What is the biggest mistake professional authors make when they insert plot twists into their book?
A: Sometimes the plot twist you have in mind when you start writing is not the one the story really needs when you get to that point. Let the old one go. Don't insist on making the characters stupid to support your plot twist. Make sure the red herrings are legitimate solutions that just aren't true this time.
Q: What makes a plot twist good, and what makes one actually surprising?
A: Good and surprising means that the Eureka moment for your character and your reader are at the exact same time. Let the reader figure out what the character is going to do just before he does it.
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[Brandon] I actually have a writing exercise for you. Now we've been doing a few weeks on plot twists, and we've had you write about them and things like this. We're going to be moving into endings next month, and talking about those. So your actual writing exercise is to try writing out your plot twist. Try taking it out of your story, and see if you can remove that as a big twist and kind of make it something that is known from the beginning, which is actually really hard. I've had... I've done this several times as an exercise. What you have to do is you have to make the emotional impact of the story different. Kevin has written on the Dune books. One of the things that Frank Herbert did a lot was tell you his plot twist five or six chapters before they happened, and then built the emotional tension around you knowing what's going to happen, or knowing the sense of dread instead of being surprised by it. Different emotions, the same type of concept. So that's your writing exercise. Give that a try. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
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