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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
So there is a thing what I am writing. As of this morning, it has… 
5th-Mar-2010 09:44 am
Writing - photo
So there is a thing what I am writing.

As of this morning, it has become clear that, within it, there was a significant Twist.

Now, I worry about this. In the days of M. Night Shymalan, can a Twist be pulled off? At all? Or will it just make the reader roll their eyes?

If the book you're reading has a Twist, do you eyeroll and set it aside; does it spoil your enjoyment?


Related: This story is going to kill me dead.
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5th-Mar-2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
7th-Mar-2010 11:06 am (UTC)
5th-Mar-2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Stupid mouse! I meant 'no'.

I like twists. Like any other literary device, they can be used poorly and fuck things up. But when used properly, they are neat and awesome.
5th-Mar-2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
~seconds this~
5th-Mar-2010 02:50 pm (UTC)

The twist has to be good. The twist has to be twisting the awesome knob up to 12.

5th-Mar-2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
The twist has to be good, breathtaking.
5th-Mar-2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
I loved O. Henry for about 4 stories, and then it got boring.

The Twist can be awesome if it's done right, or it can feel like the Hand of $Deity coming down to warp the plot just right, which spoils it entirely. I do not like The Hand coming down and smacking the plot around, there has to be a valid reason for The Twist, one I can look back and acknowledge, or it's just another book I shouldn't have bought.
5th-Mar-2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
As you know, I consider good writing to be something that transcends twists. A twist merely for the sake of a twist is weak (unless used for a short-form humor piece -- think of the Tall Tales told at Callahan's), but a twist as a part of a story, as long as it's internally consistent, is fine. Remember that most stories have, from the POV of the characters, a twist (the death of or betrayal by a friend, the revelation of the murderer, etc). Pretty much every episode of Leverage has a twist ("here's how they really pulled off the con"), and there's no problem there. Emma Bull's Bone Dance comes to mind as a novel with a twist, but the twist was essential to the plot, and drives the plot and themes forward.
5th-Mar-2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Twists, to me, need to feel earned. I want the characters to have a genuine reaction to them. I read a recent novel with a twist, and one of the maddening things about the twist was that the characters didn't seem to have much reaction to it, even though it was a fundamental assumption about a major character being proved wrong. (It didn't help that several characters already knew the twist, so it wouldn't have much impact on them. So what was the point of the twist in that book?)

As frustrated as I was with Spider-Man 3, at least Peter's reaction to his uncle's murder case being reopened felt genuine. The problem was all the contrivance needed to fit that murder into the third film's plot.

Do it. Do the twist. You can make it work.
5th-Mar-2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
You should do The Twist too. You dancing is good.
5th-Mar-2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
On the whole, I enjoy Twists, but I've become cynical if I haven't been told that a character actually died in an apparently mortal situation.

Maybe the Twist could be that they're actually dead.
5th-Mar-2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
I love twists. All too often in what I'm reading or watching, I figure everything out before the end and putter through bored. A twist wakes me up and re-engages me.
5th-Mar-2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
I like twists - particularly if they are well done :)
5th-Mar-2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
I only love Twists if I can't see them coming. But if I can't -- I LOVE LOVE them.
7th-Mar-2010 11:09 am (UTC)
This too. I do often see them coming when they are badly written (or acted/directed in films and TV).
5th-Mar-2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I am frequently able to see a Twist coming. Especially ones that are predicated on genderfuck. I have apparently always had this ability -- there was an Agatha Christie I read when I was ten or so, and a key clue involved everyone assuming one gender for a twin, and I was all "wtf, why do they all think that? everything makes more sense the other way."

So my requirement with a Twist is that if I can see it coming, there have to be good reasons for the characters NOT to see it, so it doesn't feel like authorial cheating.
5th-Mar-2010 03:36 pm (UTC) - The twist has to be reasonable
You can't have a Bobby Ewing shower scene or have everything be the result of extraterrestrial aliens manipulating things behind the scenes. If the twist passes the test of reasonableness, then okay, I may even love the twist. You're way past fanfic in skill and experience, so I won't be insulting and compare you there, but bad twists are one of the few things that will lead me to destroy a book rather than pass it along.

Edited at 2010-03-05 03:36 pm (UTC)
5th-Mar-2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Definitely Depends.

First, on which Twist. Some have been beaten to death, then beaten into glue. Others are contrived plot devices, creative crutches at best. For the record, I do acknowledge that genuinely new Twists are becoming sparse in this digital age.

Secondly, on how it's delivered. If it amounts to "Hi, I just dropped a dead fish in your lap"... Uh, no. Even a well worn Twist can still work if it makes sense in the big picture, and doesn't require shoehorn/duct tape/heavy staples to be in the story.

All that said... For your story, if this Twist is what you're seeing, I say roll with it. :)
5th-Mar-2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Provided the twist is well-set up and makes sense if you look at the story in retrospect, even if you didn't see it coming, I love it. Otherwise, it feels like a gimmick.
5th-Mar-2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
This one would make lots of sense in retrospect, I think...
5th-Mar-2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Have you read Pat Wrede's Mairelon the Magician? It has the best 'you stuffed the rabbit into the hat in plain view in chapter one, and I didn't realize you'd done so until you pulled the rabbit out at the climax!' that I've seen in a long time. That counted as a twist for me.
5th-Mar-2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love a Twist in the stories I read or watch. But it's important that the Twist be completely unexpected and/or force me to re-envision everything I thought I knew about the story.

But that "Holy crap! Wtf?!" moment is *so* worth it.
5th-Mar-2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
Totally off topic, but your icon makes me happy!
6th-Mar-2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Thanks! I've gotten so addicted to Dragon Age that I just had to make a user pic for it. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds it amusing. ;)
5th-Mar-2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
I love twists! Granted, there are some caveats to this.

Good twists make the story better when you re-read or re-watch it. "The Sixth Sense" is an excellent example of this. The revamped "Battlestar Galactica" has this with the reveal of the final five Cylons.

Good twists can also make the rest of the story more powerful and have more layered meanings. Much like the ending of the mini-series of the revamped "Battlestar Galactica".

Bad twists make you want to defenestrate random passers-by. I'm looking at you, "Dallas". I'm looking at you, series finale to the new "Battlestar Galactica".

There are twists that wind up falling into the middle, such as the identity of the founder of Rossum Corporation in "Dollhouse". The twist is nice and powerful and sets up some really awesome (and tearjerker) moments, but it still pisses you off at the same time.

Then there's everything Shymalan has done since "The Sixth Sense". People now are watching his stuff just to see what the twist will be, because they know it will be there.

I suppose the question you should ask yourself is "If someone were spoiled about this twist, would they still want to read the story? Would it make them more excited by the story?" If the answer is "yes", you're probably golden. I knew the twist to "The Sixth Sense" the first time I watched it, and I loved that movie.

So, TL;DR twists are good!
7th-Mar-2010 11:19 am (UTC)
Also this. *nods*
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5th-Mar-2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
Twists are the reason I still read, with GREATEST glee, Arthur C. Clarke short stories.

It's like anything else; like UST, like smut, like an overworked trope, like first person POV. Tim Gunn says if you can make it work, you're allowed.
5th-Mar-2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
The most important thing is that The Twist needs to be there on the reread. It needs to be intertwined with the plot so that when you go back and read it again, it's so obvious you wonder how you could have missed it--or you are impressed at how cleverly it's all there from the start.

See also: everything by Megan Whalen Turner.
5th-Mar-2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Please no deux ex machina. I recently watched the first season and half of the second of "Alias" for the first time. All the big twists, I predicted. When I made some future predictions for the series to the person I was watching with, they were shocked that I was right (and no, I had never seen the series and don't remember the big things people talked about when it was around).

I read Kiss the Girls long before it was a movie, *that* is a well-delivered twist. I was shocked, stopped and reread the book and discovered the clues along the way. James Patterson does twists well, though I've gotten better at predicting them and spotting things with reading more of his books.

I didn't vote in the poll because it genuinely depends on how its done. It takes a great deal for me to not finish a book, but if it makes me feel like I'm watching "Alias" again, I'll likely chuck it across the room and let it lie there.
6th-Mar-2010 01:55 am (UTC)
Twists work for me if they're fair. That is to say, a twist has to have its seeds already present in the work which preceeds it and must make sense in the configuration of events in the story in which it occurs. It can be a tricky balance to make them have deep roots in the story without also making them obvious to the saavy reader; some people can do them well and some just can't do them at all.
7th-Mar-2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Twists when well done are awesome. I enjoy those a lot.

But twists can be poorly handled, used as a deus-ex-machina, change the outcome of the story without explanation or logic, and then the author loses me.
8th-Mar-2010 04:20 am (UTC)
I am not a fan of what I call the badump-bump-tchish kind of twist, which relies for its major effect on surprise. For one thing, I like to reread and for another, I tend to guess coming twists about one time in 4 when I'm not even trying, and I doubt I'm the only one.

However if the twist can retain its power when you know it's coming, then I'm all for it.
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