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Noizchild
03-07-2016, 02:14 AM
Tell me, is it better to surprise the reader and the characters or let the reader in on the twist, but surprise the characters?

Kerosene
03-07-2016, 02:21 AM
Neither and both.

It depends on what you're doing and what outcome you want.

As a reader, I'm fine with "small" surprises that don't completely impact the story. Twists that change the events, but the not the entire journey.

With large surprises, as they are the twist in the climax and such, I suggest giving some hint (doesn't have to be obvious) that they'll occur. Story ending twists out of left field make me toss books.

guttersquid
03-07-2016, 02:40 AM
Think The Sixth Sense.

Liosse de Velishaf
03-07-2016, 03:57 AM
You have to find the balance between looking like an asshole who pulled shit out of itself and not making the characters appear blindingly stupid, because if the reader knows what's up, they're gonna think the character is dumb when they don't, but if you have a complete surprise twist with no foreshadowing, you look like a crappy writer or a jerk.

Jamesaritchie
03-07-2016, 11:12 PM
Think The Sixth Sense.

That's perfect. There were clues every step of the way through the movie. Some viewers connected the clues, and some did not, but in hindsight, the clues were obvious.

cmi0616
03-08-2016, 01:54 AM
Maybe this is just a personal preference, but I'm very skeptical of plot twists. Unless there's a lot of subtle evidence leading up to the "twist" to suggest that the "twist" was in the fabric of the story all along, it usually seems to me that the hand of the author is felt too acutely.

blacbird
03-08-2016, 03:28 AM
Tell me, is it better to surprise the reader and the characters or let the reader in on the twist, but surprise the characters?

When you read a murder mystery, do you want to know right away who the killer is, or do you want go for the ride and puzzle it out alongside the other characters?

caw

leifwright
03-08-2016, 03:33 AM
Do what fits naturally with the story and your storytelling. It's a delicate balance.

in my first novel, the identity of the killer, while hinted at through the book, was a secret until the last chapter.

in my second novel, the identity of the killer was revealed halfway through the book, but the why (and identity of who hired him) was saved until literally the last sentence.

just do what feels right for your story.

leifwright
03-08-2016, 03:36 AM
Maybe this is just a personal preference, but I'm very skeptical of plot twists. Unless there's a lot of subtle evidence leading up to the "twist" to suggest that the "twist" was in the fabric of the story all along, it usually seems to me that the hand of the author is felt too acutely.


I agree. It's what made "fight club" the best at that sort of thing, for me anyway. The twist was staring me in the face the whole time, which is brilliant.

DancingMaenid
03-08-2016, 04:39 AM
Both approaches can be done well or poorly. The risk with surprising the reader is that they'll be annoyed if the twist isn't set up properly or doesn't make sense. The risk with revealing things to the reader but keeping the characters in the dark is that sometimes the characters come across as stupid for not seeing what's going on, or it can be frustrating to wait for the characters to figure things out.

But both can also be done well. Like leifwright mentions, I think Fight Club is a good example of a book (and movie) that has a surprising twist that works. On the other hand, knowing what's coming can be a great form of suspense as long as the characters don't act like idiots in order to keep the suspense going.