There is a meme floating around (and I can’t find it now, but I’m sure you’ve seen it) that I love. And my daughter has fallen in love with it to. It’s something like this:
When life gives you a surprise, just yell “Plot twist!” and move on.
This week reinforced just how true that is. And the surprises aren’t always bad – or good.
- Surprise! You’ve just been fired.
- Surprise! You’re going to have a baby!
- Surprise! Your computer just died.
- Surprise! Your Twitter pitch got a favorite!
- Surprise! You got a five-star review (this one actually happened to me yesterday).
(Side note: No, I wasn’t fired this week, but I have been fired before.)
And so on. And they’re all plot twists. We tend to think of twists in fiction as “bad” things, but really a twist is anything that takes the story in an unexpected direction. And sometimes that direction is up. Sometimes it’s down. But it’s always something we aren’t quite looking for.
As writers, we want twists. We want to surprise our readers because hey, that’s what makes a good story. Nobody wants to read about predictable. Even in a romance, where we want the boy and the girl to get their HEA ending, it’s not really a story if boy meets girl, they have a wonderful, but non-problematic, courtship and they go on to spend the rest of the lives together.
No, we want the sizzle. And twists give us the sizzle.
Real life might be a different game. Maybe we don’t want quite so much uncertainty in our day-to-day. But we’re going to get it. That’s life. Life happens in the surprise moments, not the ones where everything goes the way we expect.
So take a tip from fiction. When life throws a curve ball yell “plot twist!” and above all, keep on reading.
Mary Sutton | @mary_sutton73