Writing a Twist: If I’m surprised, will the reader be? #amwriting

‘Something odd happened today,’ I told my girlfriend. ‘I created a twist for my story.’

She sort of winced, as if I was sticking a needle in to draw some blood. ‘Is it like a twist which makes you groan, sigh, or…?’

‘No, I don’t think so.’  I had to recall exactly how it happened to answer that. ‘I didn’t see it coming, it just happened, and it surprised me.’

I have never written a story with a twist before, and always thought they were contrived and, therefore, sucky. However, now I’ve written one, I’m a bit unsure of what to do about it. Do I go back over the story and seed it with some foreshadowing? Or do I leave it in place, as is, and let the reader be as surprised as I was?


Can any twist writers out there give me some advice?


Here’s my story and how the Twist occurs:

My protagonists goal is to supply video footage to a TV company, and he works the entire story to deliver it. He misses the deadline, gets an extension, infuriates his boss, misses the extension again, gets fired (pretty much), then manages to get the footage after all is lost and does so for himself.

His camerawoman is a late recruit after the prot. loses his previous cameraman. She doesn’t care much for the project and would rather be creating her own documentaries to try and get noticed and get into the industry, but takes the job offered, as, well, it’s money at least. Once the protagonist finally gets the footage, the camerawoman pulls an editing all-nighter and uploads it to the servers ready for live broadcast just in time: saving the day and his ass.

This is what the reader believes has happened… however, the Twist comes when the reader discovers…

She didn’t upload the edit to the TV companies servers, she uploaded it to YouTube. She edited her own promo-reel for her project and sent it to the network, in hope of getting work/noticed.

I think the twist works because she’s money driven and opportunitistic; she has no loyalty to the protagonist, and doesn’t like him much either, despite him liking her. There is no foreshadowing of this twist at all. Hence it came as a total surprise to me, and I believe it will be a total surprise to the reader.

I’m sure it’s hard to describe a twist without reading the entire story, but I’d be keen to hear from other ‘twist writers’ about how the effect is achieved, and what I need to do to ensure it will work well.

Thanks for reading – comments welcome.


Photo by Thomas Leth-Olsen


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