Disclosing plot twists

I think it’s safe to say we all love a good plot twist from time to time. When a story takes an unexpected turn, a revelation changes the way we see things, or we finally discover what is behind a mystery and are genuinely surprised we are left awed. Of course, sometimes plot twists are predictable or change a story for the worst, which can ruin a book. Either way, when someone mentions a shocking or amazing plot twist in a book, it’s very hard for me to resist picking it up. Then comes the problem: I can’t stop thinking about the plot twist while reading the book. I try to guess, pick up clues in every page, and even read faster than usual just so I can finally read the supposedly incredible revelation.

So today I thought I would talk about the positive and the negative things about plot twists and about disclosing their existence in a book. I even conducted a little poll on Twitter to find out some of your thoughts beforehand, so if you’re curious of the result, read ahead!

I love being shocked in books when it’s well done. It demonstrates an author can create a beautifully complex story right before you, keep you engaged, and then offer something very rewarding. But there are times when I read a book merely expecting everything and anything to be a clue and ruin my own experience. Discovering a plot twist ahead of time is the most frustrating thing that could happen to me. So why do I keep picking up books that offer a plot twist? Well, there are many reasons…

THE POSITIVE

  • I’m curious. I need to know what the mysterious plot twist is all about and be able to join the conversation.
  • I like to be shocked with a story. I love reading things that pleasantly and genuinely surprise me and take me unexpected ways. It feels rewarding and it usually means the story was well crafted.
  • I get to play detective. I enjoy a complex mystery that actually offers clues and foreshadowing for the reader to guess. I can almost sense Agatha Christie feeling proud of me whenever I try to solve those kinds of plot twists.
  • It showcases the author’s creativity. When a plot twist manages to impress me, I admire the author and their imagination to no end.

Then, of course, there are times that I pick a book because I heard of the incredible surprise ending or shocking plot twist to find out one (or more) of these things…

THE NEGATIVE

  • It’s predictable. Sometimes it’s because authors add overused tired tropes and still expect to shock us and other times I guess things out of pure luck or because I’ve read and seen too many mystery novels and films.
  • It’s pointless. The story was okay or amazing up until the point the author decided to “shake things up” and enter a plot twist that ruined everything.
  • It’s just for the shock value. This is a common one and I think it’s a very weak tactic to make people talk about your work. It usually means there’s no real substance.
  • It’s distracting. As I said before, if I know there’s a plot twist, I’m going to try to figure out and I don’t focus properly on the story.

I understand when people mention there is a plot twist in the story, it sells it, but I can’t ignore the fact that it can also ruin the reading experience. I turned to my followers on Twitter with this poll and here’s what they had to say:

Poll plot twist discussion.png

 

Well, I was surprised to find out very few people like being told there’s a plot twist in a book! Many people dislike it, but most people voted “sometimes”, which is reasonable. I guess it really depends on the book and its story. If, for example, the novel is a thriller, I find that selling the plot twist is a good way to build up the hype. On the other hand, if the book is a contemporary and they talk about ‘that ENDING’, I assume someone dies or overthink everything and it probably ruins the whole thing. So, although I love picking up books that have plot twists, I would have to side with the people that voted “sometimes” on this.

What about you? Do you like people disclosing plot twists? Are you like me and pick up books to play detective?

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46 thoughts on “Disclosing plot twists

  1. I like a bit of both so I think I’m in the “sometimes” category. It all depends on how it’s done and the Author for me. When it’s for pure shock value I end up really disliking the book and probably won’t pick up that Author again.
    I also don’t mind people saying there’s a plot twist but I prefer to go in blind and experience it all for myself.
    Great post!

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  2. When it comes to disclosing plot twists I am pretty tight lipped about them! I like experiencing a book as if I read it the first time and I like to afford people who may be discovering the book the same courtesy. If I can help it.

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    1. That’s very nice! I tend to avoid saying there’s a plot twist unless the person is hard to convince because it can prove to be underwhelming for them and I would be embarrassed. My intentions are not as nice as yours, you see hahaha

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      1. Ironically, I have the biggest problems with my mom. She asks me if books are good but then she wants to know what happens. To which I have to say: “You just have to read it! I can’t give it away!”

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      2. My mom is the same!!!!! Although mostly with films. And she asks in the middle of the film when we watch TV ‘what’s going to happen?’ and it drives me crazy 😛

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      3. My mom does that too! We were watching Switched at Birth recently and she’s addicted, so it’s cut into my reading time, but she keeps asking me what I think is gonna happen. I DON’T KNOW! THE SERIES IS STILL GOING ON!

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  3. I would actually prefer NOT to know if I there is a plot twist. I haven’t read this book, but EVERY review and video about a certain book I don’t want to say mentions the amazing/shocking/plot twist at the end. The fact that I know there is a plot twist at the end makes me less inclined to read it because I’ll be expecting some ridiculous plot twist at the end. I’d rather be extra surprised by not knowing the plot twist or that the plot twist is coming.

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    1. I totally understand. But I’m the worst and now I want to know which book you’re talking about (you don’t have to say it though, I’m just pointing to the fact that my curiosity has no limits haha) . It’s a problem of mine.

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      1. Lol I didn’t want to say what book it was because I was literally just saying I hate when that kind of thing is spoiled and then someone spoils it. So warning to anyone else who might be reading this. Lol. But I’m talking about Red Queen. All I hear about is the crazy plot twist at the end. So if I ever read it, I’ll be expecting the plot twist at the end, so I imagine I won’t be as surprised as I might have been if I had no idea there was a plot twist.

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      2. I’m sorry to have made you say it, but thank you!! haha Oh, yes, it will definitely take some of the impact away, but maybe it’s still surprising enough.

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      3. Haha, no it’s okay! I just didn’t want to say, “I hate when people say there’s a plot twist, but let me tell you about this book with a plot twist…” Seemed hypocritical, but since you asked, it’s fine! I hope when I eventually read it the shock is so shocking I’m still super surprised!

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  4. I’d really rather find out for myself if the book has twists and turns. It’s why I loved Chuck Palahnuik’s Fight Club and why I hated Lullaby. Eventually his books became all about the shock value and the twist. It was predictable and I stopped reading them. I knew something was coming, so I was looking for it. I was rarely caught off guard. *shrugs* Isn’t the point of a twist to catch the reader unawares?

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    1. Oh my God you’re not going to believe me but I was SO close to mentioning Chuck Palahniuk! I agree with you on Fight Club. And on the other end of his spectrum I’ve got Haunted. Have you read it? Short story collection. Some I liked, but the shock value in every single story was so annoying! He is such a perfect example, I regret not naming him on the post now haha

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      1. Yes! He is the perfect example. I was hoping you’d read some of his stuff when I mentioned him. I find that a lot of people haven’t heard of him, which is shocking since the Fight Club movie was so popular.

        I haven’t read Haunted. I read Fight Club (loved), Invisible Monsters (loved), Choke (meh), Lullaby (awful), Rant (my favorite Palahniuk), and Damned (don’t get me started on this one. Soooo bad). I used to be his biggest fan. Rant is one of my very favorite books. Sadly, everything he writes is formulaic. It’s a game of find the twist. Not worth it.

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      2. Such a shame, but good to know! Haunted was a bittersweet experience for me so I haven’t picked any other books by him, but if I ever do I’ll be sure to check Rant or Invisible Monsters.

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  5. I think I prefer not to know if there’s a plot twist. Maybe just because I’ve seen way to many mysteries/CSI-type shows/have studied way too much psychology, but I find they’re never really shocking. A few exceptions, but I guess I’m generally hard to surprise. But if I know something’s coming, it’s even more predictable, so I’d just rather not know. Then it can either be just a fun plot point, or I might actually get to be surprised for once.

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  6. Hmm… I have to say, I’m not sure.
    But I do know that if someone told me this book has a mind-blowing plot twist, I would be more inclined to pick it up.
    This is a great question… I really can’t say for sure (:

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  7. I agree with you. I loooove plot twists, but sometimes I wish I didn’t knew there was a plot twist. The again, I’m more inclined to read the book if there is hahaha

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  8. I was just commenting on this the other day, I read a book from an author that always has a huge plot twist on her books and it doesn’t bother me to know it’s there or waiting for it but I do anticipate it and maybe that makes me question the characters from the start. And I’m one of those who don’t want to know if there’s a plot twist going in (unless it’s a given like I mentioned) great topic!

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    1. Thank you! You’re right, when an author usually does it, it’s fun because you sort of expect it but it’s not like you are actually told: Yes, there is a plot twist. It’s more like: Well… maybe, read ahead. Which is more appealing 😛

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  9. I’m also quite conflicted about plot twists. I totally agree with you that oftentimes you can see it coming, but I find it exciting nonetheless. I don’t like it when people tell me there’s a plot twist in a novel if it’s obvious there’s going to be one; however, if a book is very boring in the beginning, I’d appreciate it if someone would let me know that it’s about to get interesting so I don’t give up on it. Overall, thanks for the great discussion!

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  10. This is such an interesting topic ! But I must say that I’m not surprised by the poll results. I would vote No, I absolutely hate being told that there’s a plot no matter the circumstances, I become suspicious of everything 😂 and it lessens the surprise factor.

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    1. It was so funny for me to see the results and realize I’m ridiculously curious 😛 But you’re right, it loses its impact that way. I’m glad you enjoyed the topic, thanks for participating in the discussion 😀

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  11. Personally I always expect a book to have. a plot twist. I mean, if there isn’t then where’s the fun in that, right? I think the one that should be disclosed is what the plot twist is. Though I’m all right with being spoiled (I actually lov spoilers), a lot of people like going in blind and wouldn’t want to know what the plot twist would be beforehand. So I guess that’s the more important thing. 🙂

    Great post, Esther!

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    1. I guess for me it depends on what I’m reading if I expect a plot twist or not, but people should definitely not spoil them telling others what it is. I read spoilers just for books I know I won’t ever pick up to see what the hype is all about or to understand a review better 😛
      Thanks, I’m glad you join in 😉

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  12. I actually do NOT like it when they mention it. especially if it’s not a thriller. I don’t want to go into the book already thinking about it. It detracts from the overall feel. But I can see why some people might like being warned. I actually need to watch what I write in reviews because in my excitement I tend to mention it (>~<) Shame. Awesome discussion.

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  13. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about plot twist spoilers, haha. I guess they’re okay as long as they don’t tell me the actual plot twist. Although, like you, I get edgy while reading the book since I’m constantly anticipating the plot twist to jump at me as I turn a page.

    As for the topic of plot twists itself, I hate when authors just spring them onto readers out of the blue without any build-up or foreshadowing. I think a good plot twist is one that is originally included in the planning of the novel, since that way, the whole book can work around it – as opposed to the ones that seem like a mere afterthought by the author to spice things up a bit.

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    1. I completely agree with you. Those “plot twists” are mere shock devices and they suck. They need a build up to actually carry some value. I sort of love and hate anticipating plot twists because I like looking for clues but I also hate being disappointed by underwhelming twists.

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