Creating a Plot Twist

Amidst the action, gore and mindless gags of the general Hollywood scene, it’s easy to forget one of the most important parts of filmmaking – storytelling. There’s nothing more captivating than a good story and one of the hardest things to pull off is a good twist.

First of all if you’re looking to create a nifty twist it’s best to know what that twist is from the get go. Know where you are working towards. In fact it’s good practise to roughly know where the story is going and how it will end beforehand for any script, even those without twists. This doesn’t mean you need to meticulously plan every detail of your ending but once you know where you’re heading it’s much easier to lay out plot points along the way.

Another thing to remember early on, constantly try to view your script from the audiences point of view. Perhaps this seems obvious but it’s one of the most important things you can do. Think of how you’d be thinking as the viewer, ask yourself where you’d be expecting the story to go, what turns you might expect and if things are too predictable.

Much like in a magic trick, the way to deceive your audience is with misdirection. There are a number of writing tools that can help you hide the truth behind your plot. Red herrings are an excellent way to leave the audience guessing. These are false clues intended throw them off the scent. Remember though, when using a red herring that you will have to in turn include a dead end, clearly dispelling the outcome that the audience thought they saw coming.

Don’t forget to lay subtle clues as to your real ending; a good time to do this is perhaps during an action scene or a moment where you’ve really built up tension so that the viewer is less likely to notice it during the commotion. It’s important that that you lay enough evidence to make the twist seem plausible within the confines of your story. This doesn’t mean it has to be realistic just that an audience needs to believe it could happen considering what has come before. If you fail to do this the viewer could feel cheated or lied to, if they didn’t have a chance to see it coming how can they be surprised when it does?

If you’re really feeling bold another good way to shock and awe with a great twist is to double up. By creating a smaller but still shocking reveal just before your big crescendo you can catch the audience off guard, which will make your planned twist all the more stunning. Try not to place them too far apart, the idea is that they’ll still be reeling from the first before they even realise there could be another.

As with any script, rewrites are key, keep going over your script, reading your scenes from the audience’s point of view and if something doesn’t sit right, change it. If you keep tightening your story until your twist surprises even you then the viewer will surely feel the same way.