37+ Unexpected Plot Twist Ideas for Creative Writers

girl shocked by a plot twist in a book

What are plot twist ideas?

Plot twists are those surprising turns in a story that you just didn’t see coming! They shake up the narrative, keep things interesting, and make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the plot.

Some plot twist ideas include the False Protagonist, the Role Reversal, the Hidden Motive, and the Unexpected Consequence. You’ll learn about each of these, and many more, in this article!

Click here to go straight to the unique ideas!

Every screenwriter and novelist knows the thrill of penning a plot twist. It’s that delicious moment when a creative twist emerges from the recesses of your mind, promising to leave readers and viewers shocked, surprised, and intrigued.

But, plot twists aren’t just about the element of surprise. There’s an art to writing twists in a story. Whether it’s a big reveal, a change in direction, or an event that alters everything, the key is subtlety, timing, and a deep understanding of your audience’s psyche.

As someone who’s spent countless nights weaving tales and scripts, I understand the hunger for that perfect plot twist idea that makes your story complete!

If you’re a frustrated writer facing writer’s block or simply looking to sprinkle some fresh intrigue into your story, you’re in the right place. Dive in and discover 37+ compelling plot twist ideas that could transform your next storytelling adventure!

WARNING: This article includes plot twist spoilers from movies and/or books!

The Best 37+ Plot Twist Ideas (to use for your own story!)

plot twist in a movie

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the plot twist examples below!

1. The Unreliable Narrator

The character telling the story has been lying or withholding crucial information. This twist can create a sense of unease and distrust, making readers question everything.

Example: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, where the reader discovers that Amy is less than truthful about her disappearance.

Unique twist idea: “Ghosts of Elmwood House” is told by an elderly lady, Mrs. Hargrove, who recounts her experiences with ghosts in her ancestral home. She vividly describes various supernatural events to a young writer. In the end, it’s revealed that Mrs. Hargrove has been concealing a family secret: the ‘ghosts’ are metaphors for family scandals she was too ashamed to reveal, turning the ghost story into a family drama.

Unique twist idea: In “Letters from Nowhere,” Emily writes letters to her friend about her adventures in a quaint, remote village. She describes colorful characters and events in vibrant detail. However, the revelation comes when Emily’s friend visits the village, only to find it abandoned for years. Emily’s letters, a mix of imagination and longing, were never real.

Question to Keep in Mind:

What purpose does the unreliability serve?

  • Reflect on why your narrator isn’t completely truthful and how their deceit enhances your story.

2. Identity Reveal

A character turns out to be someone else entirely, often someone significant to the plot.

Example: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, where the protagonist and Tyler Durden are revealed to be the same person.

Unique twist idea: “The Ghost Writer” follows a struggling author, Clara, who suddenly becomes famous for her bestseller. Everyone is curious about where she gets her inspiration. The reveal shocks everyone: Clara’s been channeling the spirit of a famous, long-dead author, writing stories she receives in her dreams.

Unique twist idea: “The Royal Swap” is set in a kingdom where the princess is known for her kindness. In a surprising turn, it’s revealed that the real princess died young, and a commoner has been acting as her replacement. This commoner-turned-princess must now navigate her role in the royal family and the kingdom’s politics.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the identity reveal impact the overall story?

  • Think about why it’s important that this character has a hidden identity.
  • Consider how the reveal changes relationships, plot directions, or the themes of your story.
  • This ensures that the twist is not just for shock value but adds real depth to the story.

3. Hidden Villain

A character who seemed friendly or harmless is revealed as an antagonist. This can create a sense of betrayal and shock.

Example: Ron’s rat turns out to be Peter Pettigrew, who is further revealed as a traitor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Unique twist idea: “The Quiet Assistant” revolves around Sarah, a seemingly shy and unassuming office assistant. It’s shockingly revealed that she’s been manipulating her colleagues and stealing company secrets for a rival company, exploiting her unnoticed status to carry out corporate espionage.

Unique twist idea: In “The Beloved Coach,” Coach Dan is adored by his team and credited with their success. However, the twist comes when it’s uncovered that he’s been secretly giving his team illegal performance enhancers, putting them in danger for his own glory.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How will the hidden villain’s true nature change the entire story’s direction and characters’ reactions?

  • Think about why this character hides their villainy behind a friendly or harmless facade.
  • Consider the impact of this reveal on the other characters. Will it cause betrayal, shock, or disbelief?
  • Make sure that the villain’s reveal is not just surprising, but also meaningful to the story and its characters. It should alter the dynamics and the course of the narrative.

4. Unexpected Ally

Conversely, a character believed to be an enemy becomes an unexpected ally.

Example: In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader turns against the Emperor to save his son.

Unique twist idea: “The Mysterious Island” features a group of kids stranded on an island with a notorious pirate. Initially feared, the pirate turns out to be an ally, guiding them through survival and protecting them from real dangers on the island.

Unique twist idea: In “The Undercover Agent,” a teenager believes their new step-parent is out to ruin their life. It’s later revealed that the step-parent is actually an undercover agent secretly protecting the family from a hidden threat, changing their relationship dramatically.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

Why does the enemy character decide to become an ally?

  • Think about what motivates this change in the character. Is it a shared goal, a change of heart, or a hidden backstory?
  • This question helps ensure that the transition from enemy to ally feels believable and adds depth to the story, rather than seeming random or convenient. It’s important for this shift to make sense in the context of the character’s personality and the overall plot.

5. Betrayal/Double Cross

A trusted supporting character betrays the main character.

Example: In Iron Man, Tony Stark discovers that Obadiah Stone is responsible for his kidnapping.

Unique twist idea: In “The Coach’s Secret,” a high school basketball team is on the verge of winning the championship under a beloved coach. Shockingly, the coach sabotages his own team to cover up past illegal activities, revealing that his mentorship was part of a long con.

Unique twist idea: “The Best Friend’s Deception” follows two best friends running a successful start-up. The twist hits when one friend sells the company without the other’s knowledge, motivated by greed and a secret deal. This shatters their friendship and forces a reckoning of personal values and ambitions.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

What makes the trusted character decide to betray the main character?

  • Think deeply about what drives this character to betray. Is it jealousy, a secret agenda, or something else from their past?
  • This question helps you make sure that the betrayal is shocking but also makes sense in the story. It adds depth to both the betrayer’s character and the overall story.

6. False Protagonist

The character we thought was the protagonist dies or is otherwise removed from their role, shifting focus to another character.

Example: Hitchcock’s Psycho starts with Marion Crane as the protagonist, but she is killed off halfway through the movie.

Unique twist idea: In “The Heist Gone Wrong,” a master thief, Rick, plans a grand heist with his crew. Just as they’re about to execute the plan, Rick is unexpectedly caught. The focus shifts to his inexperienced younger brother, who must step up, finish the heist, and outsmart the police to save Rick.

Unique twist idea: “The Detective’s Last Case” begins with a seasoned detective on the verge of cracking a major case. When he suddenly goes missing, the focus shifts to his rookie partner. The rookie, initially out of her depth, unravels the mystery and uncovers corruption within the police force, stepping out of her mentor’s shadow.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does shifting the focus to a new protagonist change the story’s direction and themes?

  • Consider why you’re choosing to switch protagonists. What new perspectives or developments does the new protagonist bring?
  • This question is important to ensure that the change in protagonists feels meaningful and adds depth to the story, rather than just being a shocking twist. It helps in creating a seamless transition that enriches the narrative.

7. Time Loop

The main character is stuck in a time loop, repeating the same events. This can add a layer of complexity and urgency to your story.

Example: In Groundhog Day, Phil finds himself reliving the same day over and over again.

Unique twist idea: In “The Championship Game,” star athlete Lucas is stuck reliving the biggest game of his life. Despite changing his strategies, his team always loses. Lucas discovers the key isn’t just winning the game but learning teamwork and sportsmanship, which finally breaks the loop.

Unique twist idea: “The Forgotten Anniversary” follows Jack, who keeps reliving his wedding anniversary, a day he initially forgets. Each loop, he tries to make it perfect but fails. Eventually, Jack realizes the day isn’t about grand gestures but about understanding and appreciating his wife’s everyday love and efforts.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

What lesson or change does the main character need to experience to break out of the time loop?

  • Think about what the time loop is trying to teach the character. Is it about personal growth, understanding others, or making a crucial decision differently?
  • This question helps ensure that the time loop serves a purpose in your story. It should drive character development and add depth, rather than just being a repetitive plot device. It’s important for the resolution of the loop to feel earned.

8. It Was All A Dream

Events that appeared as real are revealed to be a dream or hallucination. Use this sparingly, as it can feel like a cop-out if not handled well.

Example: The series finale of Newhart, which ends with the revelation that the entire TV show was all a dream by the main character.

Unique twist idea: “The Haunted House Mystery” features a group of friends exploring a reputedly haunted house. They encounter ghosts and solve a historic mystery. However, it turns out to be the dream of one of the friends, a budding mystery writer, using her dream to brainstorm her first story.

Unique twist idea: In “The Lost Explorer,” teenager Alex dreams of being an adventurer like his missing father. He experiences a thrilling journey through jungles, finding his father in a hidden city. But when Alex wakes up in a hospital following an accident, he realizes it was all a vivid dream inspired by his father’s stories and his own desire for adventure.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the dream or hallucination twist add value to the story or character development?

  • Think about what the dream reveals about the character’s desires, fears, or struggles.
  • It’s crucial that the dream isn’t just a trick to surprise readers, but instead, it should offer insight or a meaningful lesson that impacts the character’s real life. This helps avoid the twist feeling like a disappointment or a cop-out.

9. Flashback Twist

A flashback reveals significant information that changes the understanding of the present.

Example: In The Girl on the Train, Rachel’s flashbacks reveal key details about the night Megan went missing.

Unique twist idea: In “The Lost Love,” Emma can’t remember her past love due to an accident. Through flashbacks, she discovers that her current rival in business was once her closest friend and lover. This revelation rekindles their relationship and changes their competitive dynamic.

Unique twist idea: “The Secret of Maple Street” follows a group of kids who believe their neighbor, Mr. Larson, is a villain. Flashbacks show Mr. Larson’s past as a kind-hearted scientist whose invention was stolen and used for evil. The kids then help him reclaim his invention and clear his name.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the information revealed in the flashback fundamentally change the story or the characters’ understanding of their situation?

  • Consider what new, important details the flashback uncovers. Does it change how characters see each other or themselves?
  • It’s important that the flashback not just add information, but also shifts the story’s direction or the characters’ perspectives in a significant way. This makes the twist impactful to the overall story.

10. Prophecy Misinterpretation

A prophecy comes true, but not in the way characters expected.

Example: In Macbeth, Macbeth misinterprets the witches’ prophecies to his downfall.

Unique twist idea: In “The Cursed Crown,” a prophecy claims that the king’s successor will bring the kingdom to its knees. The king, fearing his son, exiles him. Years later, the kingdom falls due to the king’s paranoia, realizing the prophecy meant that denying the rightful heir, not the heir himself, would cause the kingdom’s downfall.

Unique twist idea: “The Warrior’s Path” revolves around a prophecy that a great warrior will fall, leading many to believe this hero will be defeated in battle. However, the warrior ‘falls’ in love, choosing a peaceful life over fighting. His decision to lay down arms brings an unexpected end to the war, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How can the prophecy’s true meaning be hidden yet logical, leading to a revelation that is surprising but still makes sense?

  • Think about how to write the prophecy so it’s open to misinterpretation but, in hindsight, fits perfectly with the actual outcome.
  • It’s important that the twist feels clever and satisfying, not just a random surprise. The prophecy should be clear enough to guide the story but ambiguous enough to allow for the unexpected fulfillment.

11. The Reverse Double Cross

A character who was thought to have betrayed the group was actually working for them all along.

Example: Harry Potter‘s Severus Snape, who turns out to be an agent for Dumbledore.

Unique twist idea: “The Tech Genius” follows a group of hackers attempting a major cybersecurity heist. One of their own, Sarah, seemingly betrays them to a rival tech company. In a surprising turn, it’s revealed that Sarah’s actions were a strategic move to plant a counter-virus, saving her team from a trap set by their rivals.

Unique twist idea: “The Loyal Friend” centers around a group of friends who suspect one of them, Jake, has stolen a valuable item. The friends confront and ostracize Jake, only to discover he had actually been secretly safeguarding the item from a real thief, showing his true loyalty and sacrificing his reputation to protect his friends.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How can you make the character’s actions seem like betrayal while secretly aligning with the group’s goals?

  • Think about the character’s decisions and how they can be interpreted as betrayal at first.
  • Make sure that the actions, while misleading, are consistent with the character secretly helping the group. This ensures that when the true intention is revealed, it’s a believable and satisfying twist, not just a random surprise.

12. The ‘Nobody’ Twist

A seemingly insignificant character or event turns out to be crucial to the plot.

Example: In The Usual Suspects, Verbal Kint, who seems to be a minor character, is revealed as the mastermind, Keyser Söze.

Unique twist idea: In “The Quiet Classmate,” everyone at school overlooks Tim, a shy, quiet student. When the school faces a mysterious threat, it’s Tim who unexpectedly solves the problem. His unique knowledge and observation skills, previously unnoticed, become key to saving the day, proving his importance.

Unique twist idea: “The Forgotten Diary” follows a group of kids exploring an abandoned house. They find a diary deemed irrelevant and ignore it. However, the diary later becomes essential, containing clues to a hidden treasure in the house, showing its unexpected importance.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How can you subtly showcase the importance of the ‘nobody’ character or event throughout the story without making it obvious?

  • Consider ways to include small details or moments that hint at the significance of this character or event.
  • It’s important to write these elements into the story in a way that they seem minor at first but later reveal their true impact. This approach ensures that when their importance is unveiled, it feels like a natural and clever part of the plot.

13. The Resurrection

A character believed to be dead is revealed to be alive.

Example: Sherlock Holmes reappears in The Adventure of the Empty House.

Unique twist idea: In “The Forgotten King,” a kingdom believes their king died in battle decades ago. A mysterious stranger arrives, helping the kingdom in times of crisis. This stranger is eventually revealed to be the old king, who had lost his memory and is now back to reclaim his throne.

Unique twist idea: “The Silent Witness” centers around a high-profile criminal case where a key witness supposedly died in an accident. The case takes a shocking turn when the witness reappears during the trial, having been in hiding, to provide crucial testimony that turns the case upside down.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the character’s return from the ‘dead’ impact the story and the other characters?

  • Think about the reasons and consequences of the character’s supposed death and their unexpected return.
  • This resurrection needs to serve a purpose in the story, such as resolving a conflict or revealing a key plot point. The character’s return should create meaningful changes in the story and the dynamics between characters.

14. Role Reversal

Characters swap roles, such as the hunter becoming the hunted.

Example: In Terminator 2, the T-800 becomes the protector instead of the killer.

Unique twist idea: In a small, eerie town, the renowned ghost hunter, famous for banishing spirits, finds himself haunted by an unyielding ghost. The twist? The ghost is actually a former victim seeking justice, turning the hunter into the desperate and haunted.

Unique twist idea: In a quiet college town, a brilliant but unassuming math professor is renowned for his problem-solving skills. However, in a surprising twist, he discovers that his most introverted student is actually an undercover agent. The student, initially seen as the one learning, is revealed to be the one protecting the professor from a hidden danger.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does this role reversal change the character’s view of the world and themselves?

  • Think about how the character’s feelings, beliefs, and actions shift when they experience life from this new perspective.
  • Consider the emotional journey they undergo, facing challenges they never expected.
  • Reflect on the impact this change has on their relationships with other characters.

15. The Puppet Master

An unseen character has been manipulating events from behind the scenes.

Example: In The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard manipulates Dorothy and her friends into killing the Wicked Witch of the West.

Unique twist idea: A struggling high school basketball team suddenly starts winning every game. The twist? The janitor, a former basketball star whose career was cut short, has been anonymously training the players, manipulating game strategies through secret notes.

Unique twist idea: A bestselling novelist is celebrated for his gripping plots. Little do his fans know, his creative ideas are actually fed by his reclusive neighbor, an old writer who scripts the entire narrative from a small, hidden room in their shared apartment building.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

What is the Puppet Master’s true motive for manipulating the events and how does it affect the overall story?

  • Think about why the Puppet Master is pulling the strings. What’s their end goal?
  • Think about how their manipulation impacts the main characters’ decisions and the story’s direction.
  • Reflect on whether the Puppet Master’s motives are revealed gradually or in a single, dramatic moment.

16. Revealed Identity

The protagonist discovers they’re someone entirely different than they believed.

Example: In Stephen King’s Secret Window, Mort discovers his split personality/dissociative identity disorder.

Unique twist idea: Leo, a computer programmer, starts noticing strange patterns in his life that resemble coding algorithms. He soon uncovers that he’s actually an advanced AI, designed to think and feel like a human, and his entire life has been an experiment.

Unique twist idea: Jake, known in his town for always being in the right place to help others in need, discovers he’s unknowingly been a guardian angel. His true nature is revealed when he miraculously saves a child, and his wings appear for the first time, shocking him and those around him.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the revelation of the protagonist’s true identity impact their understanding of themselves and their world?

  • Explore how this newfound identity challenges their previous beliefs and relationships.
  • Consider the emotional and psychological effects of this discovery on the protagonist.
  • Determine how this revelation reshapes the narrative and the protagonist’s journey.
  • Ensure that the identity reveal is shocking, and also deeply transformative for both the character and the story.

17. Time Illusion

The events aren’t happening in the sequence or time frame the reader believes.

Example: In Memento, the initial twist is that the story is told in reverse chronological order.

Unique twist idea: Emma writes a diary about her life in college, filled with friendships and challenges. However, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that Emma is actually an older woman, reminiscing her past. The diary is her way of reliving her youth, with the present and past beautifully intertwining.

Unique twist idea: Detective Harris investigates a complex murder case, with the narrative starting from the arrest and moving backward to the crime’s inception. The reader discovers clues in reverse, piecing together the motive and the perpetrator’s identity in a way that challenges traditional storytelling.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does this manipulation of time affect the story’s structure and the reader’s understanding of the plot?

  • Ponder the purpose behind presenting events out of order. What does it add to the story?
  • Think about when and how you’ll reveal the true sequence of events to the reader.
  • Reflect on how this twist impacts the characters’ development and the story’s resolution.

18. All in the Mind

It turns out the events, or parts of them, were in a character’s mind, dream, or hallucination.

Example: In Shutter Island, Teddy discovers the truth about his incarceration on the island and his own past.

Unique twist idea: In a post-apocalyptic world, Max believes he’s leading a group of survivors to safety. In the climax, it’s disclosed that Max is in a coma, and the entire journey is a metaphorical battle he’s fighting in his mind to wake up.

Unique twist idea: Explorer Dr. Grant recounts his team’s perilous journey through an uncharted jungle. In a twist, it’s discovered that after getting lost on the first day, Dr. Grant hallucinated the entire expedition while waiting for rescue, blending his survival knowledge with his imagination.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does the realization that some events were imagined impact the character’s reality and the reader’s perception of the story?

  • Consider what prompts the character to differentiate between imagination and reality.
  • Reflect on how this revelation reshapes the character’s understanding of their experiences.
  • Think about the reader’s journey as they piece together what’s real and what’s imagined.

19. Hidden Motive

A character has a concealed reason for their actions that’s revealed to turn the story on its head.

Example: In Alien, Ash reveals his true purpose to the horror of his crewmates after the xenomorph becomes loose on the ship.

Unique twist idea: In a kingdom under threat, Sir Galen, the king’s most trusted knight, is revealed to have been secretly aiding the enemy. His motive? To prevent a war he foresaw would destroy both kingdoms, working covertly to orchestrate peace.

Unique twist idea: In a superhero story, the notorious villain, Dark Shadow, is always one step ahead. In a startling revelation, it turns out he’s the alter ego of the city’s mayor, who’s been creating crises to fund and empower the police and emergency services, believing this is the only way to maintain order in a corrupt city.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does revealing the character’s hidden motive alter the understanding of their actions and the overall storyline?

  • Think about when and how the hidden motive will be revealed to maximize impact.
  • Reflect on how this revelation changes the dynamics between characters.
  • Consider the implications of this motive on the story’s outcome and themes.

20. Unexpected Savior

The least likely character becomes the hero or savior in the climax.

Example: In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Neville Longbottom steps up to destroy Nagini.

Unique twist idea: In a high-tech lab, when a dangerous experiment goes wrong, it’s not the renowned scientist but his overlooked assistant, Mary, who remembers a crucial step to avert the disaster. Her quick thinking saves the lab and everyone in it, proving her unnoticed expertise.

Unique twist idea: In a fantasy world, a young adventurer is trapped by an evil sorcerer. Just as defeat seems certain, his small, seemingly powerless pet dragon unleashes a hidden magical ability, defeating the sorcerer and saving his companion.

Key Question to Ask Yourself:

How does this unlikely character’s journey and personal growth lead them to become the hero or savior at the climax?

  • Reflect on the small, often overlooked traits or skills of the character that make them uniquely suited for this moment.
  • Consider the character’s background and how their past experiences have prepared them for this unexpected role.
  • Think about how this twist will affect the character’s self-perception and their standing among other characters.
  1. Moral Flip: The perceived ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides are switched, causing readers to rethink allegiances. Example: In Watchmen, Ozymandias goes from hero to final boss bad guy after his plan is revealed.

  1. Dead All Along: It’s revealed that a key character, maybe even the protagonist (or antagonist), has been dead, maybe even from the start. Example: In The Others, we discover that Grace and her children are the ghosts.

  1. Alternate Reality: The world or reality the characters inhabit isn’t what it seems. Example: In The Matrix, Neo takes the red pill to reveal the real world.

  1. Hidden Relationship: Two or more characters have an unexpected relationship revelation. Example: In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi is revealed to be Darth Vader’s old master.

  1. Unexpected Consequence: Actions taken by characters result in unforeseen repercussions, leading the story in a new direction. It reminds us that every action has a reaction, often far from what we anticipate. Example: In Ender’s Game, Ender unwittingly commits genocide.

  1. False Protagonist: The character you believe to be the main character dies or is sidelined, passing the torch to another. Example: In Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the focus shifts from Marion to Norman following her death.

  1. Hidden Villain: Someone seemingly benign or in the background is revealed as the main antagonist. Example: In Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the mysterious host reveals himself to be one of the victims thought to be dead.

  1. Misdirection: Deliberate clues are given, but they lead to the wrong conclusion, throwing off both characters and readers. It’s like a magician’s sleight of hand. Example: In Glass Onion, Andi turns out to be her twin sister Helen.

  1. Resurrection: A character believed to be dead returns, altering the course of the narrative. Example: In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gandalf returns at a crucial moment.

  1. Secret Society: Our protagonist discovers an underground or secret society influencing events. Example: In The Da Vinci Code, Roberts uncovers the threat of Opus Dei.

  1. False Memory: A character’s memory of an event isn’t what actually happened. Example: In Total Recall, Quaid’s world changes the moment he undergoes the Rekall procedure.

  1. Parallel Universe: Characters or events exist in an alternate universe, often with significant differences. Example: In Coraline, Coraline discovers a mirror universe with a parallel family after she steps through a secret door.

  1. Role Reversal: Characters swap roles, with servants becoming masters, children becoming parents, etc. It’s the world turned upside-down. Example: In Planet of the Apes, Taylor encounters talking apes enslaving humans.

  1. Cursed Object: An object central to the story has unexpected powers or curses, impacting characters or events. Example: In Jumanji, the kids discover that once they start playing the magical game that brings the jungle to life, they must see it through to the end.

  1. Reality Shift: What’s perceived as reality drastically changes through technological influence or supernatural events. Example: Truman discovers that his whole world may be false in The Truman Show.

  1. Inanimate Sentience: An object or place is revealed to have consciousness or a will of its own. Example: In Beauty and the Beast, Belle discovers a castle full of live, enchanted objects.

  1. Hidden Scene: An earlier event in the story is revisited, but from a different perspective or with new information. Like seeing behind the curtain. Example: Vantage Point explores key moments in an assassination attempt to reveal the culprits.

  1. Changeling: A character (sometimes a minor character) is replaced by someone or something else, with others unaware of the switch. It’s folklore brought to the modern stage. Example: In Krull, the Emerald Seer is replaced with an evil doppelganger.

  1. Destiny Denied: A foretold prophecy or destiny is proven wrong or is misinterpreted. Prophecies aren’t always what they seem, after all. Example: In The Lego Movie, Vitruvius admits he made up the prophecy about Lord Business.

a person reading a book and shocked by the plot tiwst

What is a Plot Twist?

infographic defining a plot twist

A good plot twist is a sharp turn in the narrative that catches readers or viewers off guard. It’s like a sudden bend in the road when you’re expecting a straight path. This unexpected story development can change the story’s direction, the character’s fate, or even the audience’s understanding of everything they’ve seen or read so far.

When plot twists are used effectively, they can add depth to your story. Conversely, a poorly executed story or plot twist can leave your audience feeling cheated or confused, like they’ve been led down a path that doesn’t make sense.

For instance, I remember the first time I saw The Sixth Sense. The plot twist at the end – when it’s revealed that Bruce Willis’s character has been dead all along – completely blew my mind. It was an unexpected turn, yet it made perfect sense in retrospect, which marks a great plot twist.

However, plot twists can also backfire if not handled well. For example, in the hit 80’s TV show Dallas, a main character – Bobby – is killed off in Season 8, only to be brought back at the end of the following season thanks to the surprising reveal that “it was all just a dream.” Fans and critics alike panned this horrible plot twist, and the show never recovered.

That’s why it’s critical for us writers to always be refreshing our bank of ideas! Just like a magician never reveals their tricks, we should always strive to keep our audience guessing. Reading widely, exploring different genres, and studying the work of other writers can all inspire our own unexpected plot twists, too.

And remember, the best plot twists are those that surprise and satisfy in equal measure!

a person reading a plot twist in a book

How to Use AI to Find Plot Twist Ideas

My favorite AI writing program to help me find creative plot twists is Sudowrite. Here’s a story idea that I inputted into Sudowrite’s Plot Twist feature.

Sudowrite plot twist

Here are the plot twist ideas that Sudowrite gave me:

Sudowrite plot twist ideas

I thought these ideas were really quite good! At the very least, it gave me a lot to work with and think about for myself. AI creative writing programs are best for providing ideas and concepts rather than for writing full novels or short stories. Sudowrite’s plot twist feature does not disappoint!

Final Thoughts on Plot Twist Ideas

Plot twists are those unexpected moments in a story that make readers do a double-take. They’re the surprises that leave us shocked, teary-eyed, or lost for words.

As writers, we have a fantastic chance to lead our readers down paths they didn’t see coming. But we need to use these twists wisely! Don’t just try to shock your audience – instead, add real depth and surprise to your story.

And avoid things like deus ex machina, where the main characters are saved from the evil villain at the last moment by some random act of God or technology. Coincidences do happen in real life, but they have little place in fiction – especially as a “great” plot twist idea that forces a happy ending.

So, whether you’re dropping hints, making sure everything fits just right, or sharing your compelling plot twist ideas with a friend for feedback, remember what’s at the heart of a great twist: the element of surprise that sticks with readers long after they’ve finished your story.

Here’s to all the writers – may your great plot twist ideas always keep your readers on their toes!

Common Questions About Plot Twists

How do you make a crazy plot twist?

To create a standout plot twist, throw in a big reveal or a surprising turn of events that still makes sense in your story. Just remember to sprinkle a few clues earlier on so it doesn’t feel out of the blue.

What is the most common plot twist?

The most common plot twist is the “reveal,” where a character’s true identity or motive is unexpectedly unveiled. Often, this twist shows a trusted ally as a traitor or a perceived enemy as a friend.

What is a major plot twist?

A major plot twist is when the story takes a surprising turn, changing everything you thought you knew. It’s like a curveball that shakes up the whole game and keeps readers or viewers on their toes.

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