Wednesday, October 12, 2011


A productive day for me! I finished the final draft of a twist in the tale short story. This got me thinking about twists and how I go about writing them. The challenge of the twist is to create the illusion and provide the diversion – that’s what makes the reader assume.

I begin by knowing what my twist will be and then draft everything leading up to the twist. Think of it as writing a story backwards. This is how I go about doing the twist:

Think of an ending then work out how you are going to reach that ending. Imply the view you wish your reader to assume. Have some fun by guiding the reader up that proverbial garden path – let them assume without deceiving them. You need to plant things which will fit in to the real outcome of your story without being too obvious. Weave in just enough hints to make the outcome plausible. You know your ending, so be clever here and use incidents/descriptions/emotions that would also relate to an idea entirely different to your ending. Even the title of your story can get readers assuming.

The twist in the tale is not about concealing the truth from the reader, it’s about slight hints, subtle signposts or clues that will end with your twist AND tie in with the ‘misconception’ you are building.

Do not reveal essential clues too early. Leave that until later on in your story; the last paragraph or even the final sentence.

Here some ideas you might like to use to get you twisting:

The main character appears to be young but turns out be old.
The hero turns out to be the villain or vice versa.
Mother assumes teenage son up to no good but quite the opposite.
Elderly mother overhears conversation about ‘being put away’ but turns out to be an inanimate object they are talking about.
The main character appears to be on a doomed flight but is really stuck in a Ferris wheel.
The main character appears to be on holiday, lying on the beach, but is actually in a sandpit.

Twist stories do take some planning and plotting. They are a challenge. But with some persistence and smart thinking a successful twist story is a joy to write, a pleasure to read and the publishers love them!

Keep writing ….


  1. Great post, Diane
    I've only written a couple (subbed in June and still waiting to hear). LOL, I could only say this to another writer because, with both of those stories, I heard a character say something that could be taken two ways. I worked the rest out from those snatches of dialogue.

  2. I've written quite a few twists and sold them all. I find them very satisfying to write as I love working them out and weaving in subtle hints.

    Great post.

  3. Pat - thanks for leaving a comment. I th ink you are on a winner there. Fingers crossed for you with those stories.

    Kat - Thank you! You've done extremely well with your twists - good on you. I too enjoy the challenge of writing a twist and bonus when they get published. :-)

  4. An interesting post, Diane and some great ideas. I've never had much luck with 'twists' but your ideas have given me the incentive to try again.

  5. I love twist stories (reading and writing them)and that's a good overview, Diane. One of the editor judges at our annual Scottish conference told us that in a good twist story, it should be able to be filmed without giving away the ending until it happens!

  6. Thanks Diane, a useful post - especially when my 'twists' if they appear at all always come as a great suprise mostly to myself!

  7. Gail - I was very happy to read your comment - thrilled to have been some kind of inspiration to you!

    Rosemary - that is so true what that judge said about a good twist story. Nothing like reading or writing a good twist story! Thanks again for leaving a comment.

    Janice - hello and thank you so much for leaving a comment. Still giggling about you surprising yourself.

  8. Great post Diane, I love writing twists in the tale! :-)

  9. Hello Amanda - thank you so much for your comment. Yes, twists are fun .. I love all the plotting and planning. :-)

  10. Great post Diane. I always enjoy reading about how writers work.


  11. Thanks heaps Suzanne, glad you enjoyed the post x