How to Write Plot Twists That Really Mess with People's Heads


We can all name films with great plot twists—The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, and Fight Club are just a few—but at the same time, we can all name films with ones that are not so great. So, what’s the deal? What kinds of narrative elements are at play in an effective plot twist? In this video, Sage Hyden of Just Write offers up an explanation of how plot twists work to surprise, confound, and even infuriate us, and even provides some key concepts to learn in order to write a few good ones of your own.


What I learned in the deconstruction for each plot twist is that Sage Writes picked movies that built up what the black and white was for us up to the climatic plot twist. To suck us, the viewers, into their world they built a kind of normalcy and rhythm we fall into until the surprise rips the floor from our feet. There was something Giancarlo Volpe and a friend of his pointed out on their Tumblr when talking about their favorite sci-fi authors such as H.G. Wells. I don’t remember the whole article but I remember the bullet points.

-Proposal: The question being asked in the story
-Argument: All of the points saying who has the right idea, pro vs. con and one side is slowly winning.
-Conclusion: The underdog of the argument comes up from behind for a show stealing win.

Rick and Morty, while I’ve fallen out of love with the show lately, has had some really good plot twists sock people in the gut and fans often forgetting that none of these characters are perfect to begin with. G.I. Joe’s villains in some incarnations have been textbook examples of poetic justice earning them their namesake usually in twisted and nasty ways. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has had so many redeemed villains via Deus Ex. Machina that I can count on my fingers how many have actually made a comeback as return antagonists. Peripetia is a new one on me. I’d have to research more into the title.

Maybe it also depends on what angle they’re using the plot twist for.

The writers at DHX Media on MLP actually used the plot twist as a way to tell the fandom how weird they were acting and sometimes to hint at new plot devices in upcoming episodes. Checking the episode “Fame and Misfortune” was fandom commentary in a nutshell. Since My Little Pony is a family show aimed at small children the hint-hint has all the subtlety of a 2 by 4 smashed upside a china set and some of the lessons they cover skim the pg rating when you take some of the world lore into account but when the writers, particularly M.A. Larson, pull off a plot twist they do it really well.
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” had a meta-philosophical plot twist the narrator thinks of when sitting in his chair. My favorite version had been the Simpsons. From a pictorial standpoint, lots of these kinds of stories rely on great acting, characterization and good symbolism. Harrison Bergeron stories have some of the most chilling anti-climatic plot twists to date but make great subtle use of all three. It’s always that small moment that makes the butterfly effect explode.


That was a great video. Thanks for posting! I’ll have to work my way through the rest of this channel’s videos. Seems like they have some great content!


Whatever you do, don’t write in time travel for the reason for everything because you couldn’t piece it together any other creative way. eg if it turns out Bran is the Night King GOT will turn out the longest roll of toilet paper I’ve ever used to wipe my [expletive]


I avoid time travel storylines because they encourage lazy writing
and lazy story development.
Also the old “it was all a dream” or in the latter years,
a VR experience of someone strapped in some VR Device.

>>>>Spoiler Alert<<<

I was quite taken by surprise to learn that Capt Lorca
in “Star Trek Discovery” Was an evil fugitive alternate universe
version of the real Lorca from Day one of the series
I suspected him of having Shady “Black ops” connections but not this.