This is a great post for me, and extremely timely (I’m currently finishing off a short story for a Masters assignment with a mega twist). I always attempt to write a good twist in all my stories, mostly because I love nothing more than being hit in the face with a big fat ‘what F**K moment’, then thinking back and finding all the clues.
Surprises which have no bearing in the story, however often prompt readers to hurl the author’s book against the nearest wall. So, for writers (and readers) who love a great twist, read on for a short masterclass by D.W. Gillespie
Creating a Killer Twist
My debut novel, Still Dark, is designed specifically to mess with you. It’s the type of book where you know exactly what the antagonist is in the first 50 pages or so. You might even roll your eyes at how similar it is to some books you’ve read in the past. There’s only one problem… you’re totally wrong, and I would bet you a dollar you won’t guess what’s really happening until pretty late in the book.
This is not because I’m an undiscovered genius of literature. I mean, I think I’m okay. Instead, it’s more because of the fact that I’m using what you know against you. I tried hard to connect the dots and make something that actually holds up to scrutiny.
Let’s take a deeper look at the one guy who’s become almost synonymous with the word “twist.” M. Night Shyamalan built a career on messing with audiences, usually successfully.
So, what are the lessons here? For starters, writers should work hard to make sure everything lines up. And even more importantly, don’t make a twist that negates everything that comes before. A good twist should be like dessert. It makes the whole meal seem better when you look back on it.
Still Dark – D.W. Gillespie
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR — D.W. Gillespie has been writing dark fiction in one form or another since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He’s been featured in multiple horror anthologies, both in print and online. Still Dark is his debut novel, and his second book, a short collection titled Handmade Monsters, arrives in 2017. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.