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scheherazade
08-26-2008, 04:36 AM
A couple of my favorite short stories I've written have been called "twisted" when I shared them in workshops. Some of my favorite authors have also been called "twisted" at times, and though I have a vague idea of what this means (dark content, dark sense of humor) I'm not sure I have full understanding of what the term means. I'd like to write more twisted stories, but it's hard without really knowing what that means.

How do you interpret "twisted" as a description for a story? What would you say makes a story twisted?

kct webber
08-26-2008, 06:47 AM
A lot of my stories have inspired the same description. I'd like the answer as well. I've always assumed that people were talking about twists in the story, mostly on the darker side of things. Maybe it's just a 'I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it', sort of thing.

Mad Queen
08-26-2008, 07:03 AM
I understand that 'twisted' refers to a story that doesn't follow the usual formulas and clichés to the letter, but twists them to create something different and usually darker. You can still recognize the formula, but it's been twisted.

scheherazade
08-26-2008, 08:11 AM
I understand that 'twisted' refers to a story that doesn't follow the usual formulas and clichés to the letter, but twists them to create something different and usually darker. You can still recognize the formula, but it's been twisted.

Yeah, that may be the core of it. I searched "twisted" on wikipedia and found my way to an entry on twist endings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twist_ending). So a Hitchcock story might be a classic twist ending, but I wouldn't call Hitchcock's films twisted. Certainly, in the context of my own stories, the ones that have been called "twisted" were the ones where I devoted the most effort to developing plot structure and unexpected events.

It's interesting that "twisted" has then taken on this connotation of dark material. I almost think of it as the kind of material you'd be offended to read about as a non-fiction piece in a newspaper, but you can't help but secretly want to keep reading about in fiction. Like a dirty secret.

Maybe it's about leading the audience to expect the most realistic, mundane or even positive outcome, and surprising them with something more deranged than they could expect.

Can anyone recommend any authors who tend to write twisted stories? I just finished Joe Hill's collection of short stories, and so those quickly spring to mind, as do Roald Dahl's stories. Any other recommendations?

Mad Queen
08-26-2008, 08:45 AM
My dirty little secret is the TV show Dexter, which twists the vigilante hero into a psychopathic serial killer. This show has a lot of flaws, huge ones, but it's entertaining and brilliant sometimes. And it's twisted. You'll feel like taking a shower after you watch it.

Michael Davis
08-26-2008, 05:55 PM
I think it all deals with context, for example:

- If you were dealing with romance, some erotica might be considered twisted
- If you're dealing with SF, much of horror might be considered twisted
- If dealing with suspense, a story about incest would be considered twisted
- etc

It also deals with the "eye of the beholder". The adage "One man's poison is another's pleasure" applies. For example, I personality fine may political views twisted, while others accept them as gospel.

Of course that's judge my "twisted" view (g).

Kitty Pryde
08-26-2008, 08:22 PM
When I read your post, I thought 'twisted' as in 'sick and twisted.' That is, writing about taboo subjects not necessarily in a way that condones them, but in a way that explores them neutrally rather than says "These subjects are wrong!" To me, the king of twisted is Chuck Palahniuk (umm I can never spell his last name). In particular the short story Guts, or the novel Invisible Monsters. I'd say a story is twisted if I'm reading it and thinking 'eeeee gross!' and yet greatly enjoying myself. But, maybe that's cause I'm twisted? Good call on Roald Dahl's stuff being twisted--'Lambs to the Slaughter' and 'Royal Jelly' off the top of my head.

In movies, I think Peter Jackson's early stuff is very twisted. His first three movies, Bad Taste, Dead Alive (aka Braindead), and Meet the Feebles are crazy sicko hilarious gorefests, and you wonder why he was ever asked to make the LOTR movies. In contrast, a gross-out zombie movie like Army of Darkness isn't twisted, it's just plain old gross fun, because it doesn't give us a fresh take on taboo subjects. Oh yah, I'll throw Reanimator and Bride of Reanimator movies in as twisted as well.

DeleyanLee
08-26-2008, 08:32 PM
My dirty little secret is the TV show Dexter, which twists the vigilante hero into a psychopathic serial killer. This show has a lot of flaws, huge ones, but it's entertaining and brilliant sometimes. And it's twisted. You'll feel like taking a shower after you watch it.

Interesting. I really like Dexter, but never considered taking a shower afterward. I only feel like taking a shower after something overly sugary, like most kids/family programming.

Phaeal
08-26-2008, 09:32 PM
I'd bet they mean "twisted" pretty much as you interpreted it: darkly humorous, dark content, quirky, offbeat. If that's the way your mind works, you should keep producing twisted stories without conscious effort.

Without further clarification from the reviewers, I wouldn't interpret "twisted" to mean "containing a twist or surprise ending."

Mad Queen
08-26-2008, 10:22 PM
Interesting. I really like Dexter, but never considered taking a shower afterward. I only feel like taking a shower after something overly sugary, like most kids/family programming.
That's because you are really twisted. :P

By the way I just remembered one of my favorite twisted stories, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I've already read this book at least 10 times, since it's so short. Good doctor has a dirty secret. The problem with this story is that, compared to modern stuff, it leaves most things unsaid. Someone should have adapted it to the modern epoch by making it very explicit in a way that highlights the twisted nature of Dr. Jekyll. He wasn't a good guy. The science fiction element isn't even necessary, in my opinion.

scheherazade
08-27-2008, 08:07 AM
Yeah, I'm definitely drawn to twisted stories as a reader/viewer. I used to be a big fan of Palahniuk (though the redundant Amy Hempelized style kind of got annoying after awhile) and I really enjoy Dexter, in spite of the weaknesses of the show. But I don't always write twisted stories and right now I still need to approach it a bit strategically. I guess the best I can do is remind myself "think twisted" whenever I'm trying to dream up characters, situations, and plotline...

steveg144
08-27-2008, 12:26 PM
Unfortunately, I suspect "twisted" is a lot like "pornography": we can't quite explain what-all it consists of, but we sure know it when we see it. :tongue

scheherazade
08-28-2008, 02:15 AM
Unfortunately, I suspect "twisted" is a lot like "pornography": we can't quite explain what-all it consists of, but we sure know it when we see it. :tongue

Yes, that definitely feels true. But if I were to set out to make a porno film I'd at least know what components I'd need to gather, in terms of the types of actors, sets, and props, not to mention lighting, music, etc, to push it over the edge from commercial film or art-house flick to full-out porno. With twisted stories it feels a little less obvious. Some minds probably can't help but write twisted characters or situations or plot turns. For me I sometimes need an extra push to get there, because my real life is far from twisted.