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Kate Thornton
01-30-2007, 10:06 PM
I just finished Raymond Khoury's THE LAST TEMPLAR. What a thrill ride, mystery, romance, historical, contemporary, you name it.

No, I am not going to give away the ending.

But it got me to thinking - what do you think of twist endings? I mean the real, knock you over like a freight train you never saw it coming but it makes a lotta sense endings.

I write short short mysteries, mostly. And they nearly all have some kind of a twisty ending in which I open the *other* hand and show you the gold coin that was there all along. I get a kick out of writing twists.

But I had an interesting conversation on line with an editor of an online 'zine that specifically doesn't want to see twist endings. He went on at length about how he thought twists were "lazy"

Hmmmm...it takes me a long time to properly do a twist ending. But maybe I'm not looking at this properly.

So what do you think? Like 'em? Which ones have you particularly liked or disliked?

Do you write them?

Meerkat
01-30-2007, 10:14 PM
That is where I am generally aiming when I write fiction. I cannot imagine why the editor would consider this a lazy approach...would not the opposite be true?

Rolling Thunder
01-30-2007, 10:21 PM
Twists lazy? Good lord, doesn't that editor understand how difficult it is to pull together a sleight of hand ending that had clues buried in the story?

What a concept.

Kate Thornton
01-30-2007, 11:24 PM
He posts on this board and might pop in to explain. I guess he sees too many inexpertly done endings.

So what endings have thrown you for a loop?

IHeartWriting
01-30-2007, 11:36 PM
I love a twist ending if it's done well.

I remember that I LOVED the ending of Scott Turow's "Presumed Innocent" when I read it forever ago.

Good Word
01-31-2007, 12:53 AM
I love a well-set up twist ending, too. It makes me respect the work, and the author's mind, all the more.

The Last Templar is in the pile by my bed. I'll have to dig it out.

Jamesaritchie
01-31-2007, 02:16 AM
Yes, twist ending are lazy. That's why good ones are so hard to imagine, and so hard to execute well once you do have one in mind.

Now, surprise endings really are lazy, and most editors and readers hate them. Makes me wonder whether the editor even know the difference. Or he's simply a "maroon," as Bugs would say, with very little knowledge of mystery fiction. I'm tempted to say no knowledge at all.

Either way, this is not a publication I'd submit anything to, or want to read.

Soccer Mom
01-31-2007, 06:41 AM
I agree. There's a big difference in a well planned twist that makes you slap your forehead and say "Now I get it. Of course. Why didn't I see that." and the surprise ending that makes you say "WTF?". One is a great payoff. The other is insulting and lazy, like the author couldn't be bothered to solve his own puzzle. I assume the editor meant he hates surprise endings.

Del
01-31-2007, 06:49 AM
I like an ending to not be predictable. If a twist makes sense I like it. If it is just a convenient way to try to fool the reader they can keep it.

JDCrayne
01-31-2007, 09:15 AM
I think twist endings are great! I love reading them, but I've never tried to write one. Getting that sort of thing to work is hard work, especially trying to phrase the clues so that when the reader goes back through the text (as readers are wont to do) it all makes sense. I still remember what a great sense of pleasure Mary Stewart's "The Ivy Tree" gave me, and I first read it back in the 'Sixties.

MirjanaLfan
01-31-2007, 07:47 PM
If the twist is feasible and relevant, then by all means it's good to have one. However, more often than not the twist is just thrown in for the sake of it, or so it would appear, and that I find to be quite aggravating as a reader / viewer.

aruna
01-31-2007, 08:18 PM
My first novel has a twist ending. It is set up from the very first chapter of the book and I drop little clues all the way through - but inconspicuoslty scattered into the backgroud while leading the reader down a completely different path.
It was really, really fun to write! (I don';t know if it is a twist as much as a surprise. I do know that readers loved it.)

Kate, I started The Last Templar but couldn't get into it. You mean I should give it a second go?

jst5150
01-31-2007, 08:29 PM
I've never read a good twist ending. Books always leave me cold that way. However, in film:

-- The Usual Suspects
-- No Way Out
-- The Sixth Sense
-- The Cannonball Run (who KNEW Roger Moore would get ejected out of his own seat?) ;-)

RoccoMom
01-31-2007, 10:18 PM
I never saw the twist in No Way Out, but I knew that Bruce Willis was dead from the beginning in The Sixth Sense.

I love twist endings that are totally unpredicted! Not like on my soap opera--I can always see those coming!

A.M. Wildman
01-31-2007, 10:51 PM
I love a well executed twist ending. Still can't write one.

As for film The Usual Suspects got me, but I saw Sixth Sense coming from a mile away.

Kate Thornton
02-01-2007, 01:14 AM
Kate, I started The Last Templar but couldn't get into it. You mean I should give it a second go?

I *read* it on CD - and it was exciting - the first part drags a bit - but it picks up speed sporadically and the ending is very good.

But I know it's looooong! I'd give it a second go - it's not earth-shaking prose, but it's fun as you go along.

Kate Thornton
02-01-2007, 01:16 AM
As for film The Usual Suspects got me, but I saw Sixth Sense comng from a mile away.

I didn't see either of them coming. I loved The Usual Suspects! In the 6th Sense, on my first viewing I didn't really get the opening scenes, which are critical to understanding the end.

I like an ending that makes me say, "Wow - it's not what I thought it would be. Wow, that's great!"

Jamesaritchie
02-01-2007, 01:53 AM
I admit, I didn't see the ending coming in Sixth Sense, either. Glad I didn't, too.

Del
02-01-2007, 01:56 AM
I admit, I didn't see the ending coming in Sixth Sense, either. Glad I didn't, too.

I didn't either the first time I saw it, but he couldn't fool me the second time. :D

Soccer Mom
02-01-2007, 04:10 AM
Sixth Sense got me. I'm usually good at spotting a twist, but that one really blindsided me, which of course made the movie twice as much fun.

KCathy
02-01-2007, 04:48 AM
I agree. There's a big difference in a well planned twist that makes you slap your forehead and say "Now I get it. Of course. Why didn't I see that." and the surprise ending that makes you say "WTF?". One is a great payoff. The other is insulting and lazy, like the author couldn't be bothered to solve his own puzzle. I assume the editor meant he hates surprise endings.

Oooh, nice explanation. I've read mystery novels with what you call a surprise ending, and it irritates me because I've spent the whole book trying to figure out a mystery that couldn't possibly be figured.

Not to blaspheme against the sublime Agatha, but don't you think And Then There Were None was a surprise, not a twist? How could you have figured that one out, based on her story, until the end?

My little sister is a plot analyst extraordinaire and always the one who knows the twist ending is coming. She knew Bruce was dead right from the start of The Sixth Sense. I'd love to be that great at putting together embedded clues! I do occasionally get things just because I can't figure out why a plot element would be in the movie unless something would later be done with it. I kind of like the shock, though, so maybe ignorance isn't such a bad thing. It must be great for sales, too, at least in cinema, when moviegoers pay for a second watch, to see how they missed the clues the first time.

One of my favorite kind of plot twists is the type that makes you doubt the love interest of the protagonist, like Hitchcock's Charade or To Catch a Thief. Wasn't there a delicious moment in Charade when you wondered if Cary Grant really was secretly out to get Audrey Hepburn? Come on, even for a half a second?

A.M. Wildman
02-01-2007, 03:20 PM
I didn't see either of them coming. I loved The Usual Suspects! In the 6th Sense, on my first viewing I didn't really get the opening scenes, which are critical to understanding the end.

I like an ending that makes me say, "Wow - it's not what I thought it would be. Wow, that's great!"

I was married at the time of watching Sixth Sense and the wife hadn't caught on. It took a lot of willpower to not open my mouth and blurt it out.:)

Not Sure if It qualifies as a twist ending, but definately one that made me slap my forehead, SMACK! OF COURSE!! was Len Deighton's novel Berlin Game. It caught me flat footed. I'm usually really good at solving mysteries/thrillers before I get to the end and he really surprised me. Loved it. :D

Petroglyph
02-01-2007, 05:55 PM
I am easily surprised by twist endings and I love them. Sixth Sense got me. I yawned my way through the first half of that Templar book. Maybe I'll pick it up again.

Odd Thomas got me, too.

I tend to be rather gullible....

ink wench
02-01-2007, 06:09 PM
I love me a good twist, which is one of the reasons why my WIP has one. (The other reason being that's the way the story sort of unfolded for me.)


I agree. There's a big difference in a well planned twist that makes you slap your forehead and say "Now I get it. Of course. Why didn't I see that." and the surprise ending that makes you say "WTF?". One is a great payoff. The other is insulting and lazy, like the author couldn't be bothered to solve his own puzzle. I assume the editor meant he hates surprise endings.

I think this is the perfect distinction. I hope my WIP will give readers that good feeling because I've tried to include lots of clues among the red herrings, but it does make me nervous. I guess I'll find out when my betas get it. If it flops, I believe the story can be salvaged because it doesn't depend on the twist.


Not to blaspheme against the sublime Agatha, but don't you think And Then There Were None was a surprise, not a twist? How could you have figured that one out, based on her story, until the end?

I think that's true of many of her stories. Poirot, Marple, whoever are frequently privy to information that the reader isn't. I still love Agatha Christie though.

Oh, and The Usual Suspects was great, totally didn't see that coming.

Jamesaritchie
02-02-2007, 03:05 AM
Not to blaspheme against the sublime Agatha, but don't you think And Then There Were None was a surprise, not a twist? How could you have figured that one out, based on her story, until the end?

?

It's been a long time since I read the book. I know I loved it, and don't recall being surprised by the ending. I just saw the movie version, and the ending there was no surprise at all.

JDCrayne
02-02-2007, 04:01 AM
It's been a long time since I read the book. I know I loved it, and don't recall being surprised by the ending. I just saw the movie version, and the ending there was no surprise at all.

That's because the director left three people alive at the end. In the original book everyone is dead and the answer is in a message in a bottle that washes up somewhere. Raymond Chandler, in one of his letters to a friend, objected to the plot because, he says, the "murderers" were collected by the killer without any proof of their guilt. I never saw that as a problem. They could have been totally innocent; it was only what the killer believed that mattered.

Anthony Ravenscroft
02-04-2007, 12:43 PM
One danger in the "gotcha!" is that anyone who guesses it should still find the rest of the story entertaining.

I used to guess the "gotcha!" in Star Trek: The Next Generation about half the time from what transpired before the opening credits, until my roommates refused to watch with me.

A good writer is someone who can tell you in the first fifty words what happens at the end, & make you hang around to hear how it all got to that point, not wanting to miss a syllable.

BJ Bourg
02-07-2007, 08:50 AM
I love twist endings -- both as a writer and as a reader -- but the twist has to be feasible. There's nothing lazy about a well-executed, believable twist. In fact, it takes hard work and a lot of thought to pull one off.

I don't like predictable endings. To me, that's lazy.

bjb

swvaughn
02-07-2007, 05:19 PM
Ooh, Odd Thomas got me big-time. So did The Sixth Sense, and The Usual Suspects, and Fight Club.

I tend to read and/or watch very carefully for the twist... unless I'm really caught up in the story. So for me, these were good.

Twist endings definitely are not lazy. They take careful planning and execution. Surprise endings are oogy...

I've written twist endings. So far, so good -- no one's tripped on before I wanted them to yet. :D

BJ Bourg
02-09-2007, 07:00 AM
Ooh, Odd Thomas got me big-time. So did The Sixth Sense, and The Usual Suspects, and Fight Club.

Good taste in movies -- especially The Usual Suspects!

bjb

swvaughn
02-19-2007, 06:43 AM
Thanks, BJ! :D I adore The Usual Suspects - Kevin Spacey is incredible.

Cassiopeia
02-28-2007, 04:39 AM
I just finished Raymond Khoury's THE LAST TEMPLAR. What a thrill ride, mystery, romance, historical, contemporary, you name it.

No, I am not going to give away the ending.

But it got me to thinking - what do you think of twist endings? I mean the real, knock you over like a freight train you never saw it coming but it makes a lotta sense endings.

I write short short mysteries, mostly. And they nearly all have some kind of a twisty ending in which I open the *other* hand and show you the gold coin that was there all along. I get a kick out of writing twists.

But I had an interesting conversation on line with an editor of an online 'zine that specifically doesn't want to see twist endings. He went on at length about how he thought twists were "lazy"

Hmmmm...it takes me a long time to properly do a twist ending. But maybe I'm not looking at this properly.

So what do you think? Like 'em? Which ones have you particularly liked or disliked?

Do you write them?I do like a twist to a story or I wouldn't consider it a mystery really. While that editor might think a twist is lazy did you ask him perhaps what he thinks a mystery is? Yes it is a puzzle but how much more pleased is the audience when they get a surprise ending. I can guess the ending of any book or movie 90% of the time before I get to it and I am not happy about that.

Cassiopeia
02-28-2007, 04:42 AM
The last movie I watched called the Illustionist...had a twist to the story...my bf didn't see it coming but I did...he disagreed with me but I was right about it. That was a very good movie I might say...in fact...I missed some clues to back up my suspcicions..I was just very logical about the ending.

I did get taken by surprise in the sixth sense. I did NOT see that ending. Even now when I watch it again...I can see how cleverly they put it together. Very well done!

Cassiopeia
02-28-2007, 04:43 AM
I love twist endings -- both as a writer and as a reader -- but the twist has to be feasible. There's nothing lazy about a well-executed, believable twist. In fact, it takes hard work and a lot of thought to pull one off.

I don't like predictable endings. To me, that's lazy.

bjb
One of the things we learned in film production was that any story ending has to be plausable or your audience will go away feeling cheated and bitter about having spent their money on your production. So the most important thing in any twist is that it has to not only be possible but creative as well.

BJ Bourg
03-02-2007, 04:45 AM
[quote=Casiopeia;1157487]The last movie I watched called the Illustionist...had a twist to the story...my bf didn't see it coming but I did...he disagreed with me but I was right about it. That was a very good movie I might say...in fact...I missed some clues to back up my suspcicions..I was just very logical about the ending.[quote]

I loved that movie! I, too, figured out the twist early on. I told my wife and explained how I knew it would be, but she, like your bf, disagreed with me. My wife gets mad at me for blurting out what I think will happen next - -especially when I'm right. There are also so many cliché lines in movies that one can see them coming from across the room. I'll often finish a character's sentence and, although everyone here would not be impressed because y'all would be thinking the same thing, my children stare wide-eyed and ask, "How do you know what they're going to say?" I shrug and tell them I'm psychic.

I also watched the movie THE DEPARTED recently. I really liked that movie, too. There was one part that really took me by surprise, although it shouldn't have because it's something I would have done in a story.

bjb