I can’t tell you how much I enjoy a story with a twist. I loved the ending of Sixth Sense. I revelled in the intricacies of the reveal in Inception. Or Edward Norton’s slow hand-clap in the final scene of Primal Fear which turns the entire plotline on its head.
As someone who reads incessantly and even with the movies that I watch, if I feel like the ending was trite or contrived, then I’m massively disappointed. I dislike TV sitcoms that resolve everything inside twenty-eight minutes. But if the ending lands and I feel like standing and applauding, then it really hits the spot with me.
I think it’s because I recognize a gift when I see it. Writers who can weave a story, but keep the twist under wraps until the moment it’s revealed … man, they have my respect. And I’m lining up to buy their next book or watch their next screenplay.
Life isn’t predictable. Things happen that you least expect, from the people you least expect it … to me, that’s the excitement right there. As a writer, that’s the challenge – to find the twist that is plausible and yet still shocking. To lead your reader in a direction but then to have a payoff that leaves them standing and applauding.
And, increasingly, for me the twist is as much about making the reader think about what I’ve just raised; perhaps a part of life which they’ve never thought about in that way before. To go a little deeper, but to not know that they’re doing it.
When that reader is me, that’s what I think is a good story.