This week: Iceberg! Edited by: LJPC - the tortoise
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|This newsletter is about twists and reveals.|
“Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.”
~ Stephen King
"Nothing bores me more than books where you read two pages and you know exactly how it's going to come out. I want twists and turns that surprise me, characters that have a difficult time and that I don't know if they're going to live or die."
~ George R. R. Martin
"I got into reading a lot of noir and a lot of thrillers as well, and I really admired the plotting about those and the way that they can surprise you. And obviously to surprise people and to have twists in the tale, you have to plan quite carefully."
~ Joe Abercrombie, British Fantasy author
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J.R. Ewing got shot?!
Soap operas are the lowly country cousins of the TV world, the ones rarely respected and often made fun of. But some soap operas have lasted 20+ years on the air. The actors and characters change, but one thing remains the same—soap operas are masters of twists and cliffhangers.
Twists, reveals, and cliffhangers shock viewers and draw them back again and again, year after year. Those techniques are used on almost all successful prime time TV shows—and in best-selling books too.
One of the best ways to keep readers glued to your stories and coming back for more is to use twists and reveals, which are basically the art of surprising the reader.
Plot Twists and Character Reveals
When a group goes into a haunted house, it's not a plot twist when they find a monster. It's pretty much expected. To write a twist, you have to set up the readers' expectations, and then put in something totally unexpected, something that will raise new problems, change the characters' plans, and send the plot in a new direction.
A twist is an iceberg hitting the good ship, U.S.S Plot.
Imagine your characters are on the ship, cruising a dark ocean, and they're worried about things that are happening onboard, like a character's disappearance, a fight between passengers, or a mutiny by the some crew members.
Then a giant iceberg appears out of the darkness and rips a hole in the side of the ship.
Nothing is the same now. Your characters have all new problems to worry about. They must focus on new plans and ideas to save themselves. The U.S.S. Plot has veered off course and is in uncharted waters—and your readers can't wait to see what happens next!
A reveal is a secret about a character that's suddenly exposed.
A reveal is often used on soap operas when characters' identities or secrets are uncovered. The bag-lady hanging around the hospital is really the doctor's long lost mother! The villain who's been causing trouble isn't really the mild-mannered kindergarten teacher—it's her evil twin no one ever knew existed!
OK, those are pretty lame.
But reveals work. Like when a good guy turns out to be the villain, a bad guy turns out to be an undercover agent and saves the day, or a character everyone thought was dead pops back up—alive!
One of the best character reveals ever:
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So keep in mind how readers love to be surprised and use Plot Twists and Character Reveals to keep them saying, "Holy cow! What will happen next?!"
Until next time: Let the horror bleed onto the pages with every word!
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To my delight, some writers took the time to comment on my last newsletter: "Hordes, Mobs & Crowds" Thank you!
Comments listed in the order they were received.
billwilcox writes: Interesting newsletter. "CELL' is one of my favs, but recently I've been reading about the so-called French Revolution. Pure madness. Mobs gone insane. Even when authorities surrendered, they were torn limb-from-limb and a lot of other very nasty things. Mobs are scary. We don't need fiction to see what has actually happened in truth, just history. It still amazes me that the French revile in the fact that they as a people did this. Insanity on steroids. If you want a good scare, just read about this Revolution. At the same time, America was also having a revolt, but with us there were patriots and wisdom, men who wanted freedom, not MOB RULE. God, what possessed them?
It's absolutely true that there are plenty of horrible things in history, written about in non-fiction. But fiction allows you to put a face to the suffering and show the reader how it would have felt to be there. Sometimes that's more effective than the knowledge of what really happened. Thanks so much for replying to the newsletter!
BIG BAD WOLF 34 on June 3 submits "Anthros Versus Zombies" writes: Things will be crazy.
What do I picture Steve Martin saying that? Maybe because he was such a "Wild and Craaaazy guy!"
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