Suspense and
Plot Twist
As you draw nearer to the end of
your short story you might be thinking
about where to take it. How to finish
it with impact…
How to make a
lasting impression...
For some of you, your story might be
looking exactly how you originally
mapped it out. For others, it may have
taken a different direction to what you
originally intended –
both are perfectly fine!
Either way, you may have a plan to
finish your story with a plot twist –
an unexpected development of events.
Short stories are ideal for this.
You grab attention with your
introduction, you draw on your
readers’ empathy for your
characters as the story progresses
and you finish with something
they didn’t expect.
This will ensure that your story is
remembered long after the last
word is read.
But before you reach that plot twist,
you will likely be building what is
known as suspense. Both go
hand in hand – in fact, you could say
that they need each other.
Suspense is a state or feeling of
excited or anxious uncertainty about
what may happen.
Now, take a minute to look back at your
story and see if you can identify an
area where you hinted at something
that might happen, and build on that.
Has a character entered the story
that the reader might be uncertain
about? Has someone made a remark
that alludes to a deeper meaning or
something that’s happened in the past –
something that may impact the future?
If not, maybe that’s what your story
needs… Not every story needs
suspense but those who are working
up to a plot twist will certainly
benefit from it.
You can use dialogue to create
suspense…
“He told me if I ever talked about
what happened it would change
everything…”
You can also use description…
As they crept around the side of the
old house the feeling of dread intensified.
They knew they shouldn’t have gone
there, especially after dark. Suddenly,
a loud shrieking noise filled the skies
and Maria knew that the feeling of
regret would never leave her…
Take the following two paragraphs for
example. You will notice that the second
version is a lot easier and quicker to read,
despite the fact that it doesn’t actually
use fewer words…
As they crept around the side of the
old house the feeling of dread
intensified. They knew they shouldn’t
have gone there, especially after dark.
“Whose idea was this anyway?” Mark
asked, unable to hide
the fear in his voice.
“He told me if I ever talked about
what happened it would change
everything,” said Maria,
preoccupied by herown thoughts.
“But he didn’t say I couldn’t
show you…”
Suddenly, a loud shrieking
noise filled the skies and Maria knew
that the feeling of regret would
never leave her…
Most of the written work will go into the
building of suspense – so long as you
have your plot twist well thought out.
However, in order for both to work
well together you need to have the
reader hooked. Once you have, you
can deliver your plot twist in just a
couple of lines.
Does someone the reader thought had
died turn up? Does the person the
reader believed to have committed the
crime turn out to be wrongfully accused?
Does the reader find out that the main
character’s brother is adopted?
Whatever the twist, so long as it is a
complete surprise you have
succeeded in carrying it off.
That doesn’t, however, stop the
reader from guessing beforehand!
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