Pulling Off a Plot Twist

I’ll admit it, plot twists scare me when I write. I tend to get self conscious about it: “Is this good? Is it cheap? Is it effective?” etc. etc. etc.

But plot twists are awesome. When done right, they’re dramatic, heart breaking, and they hit the reader in the gut with realization and make them stay up late to read”just one more chapter”.

So, how do we writers do it?

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Dark Fantasy

This is a genre that’s been popularized, I think, by the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones based on his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Personally, I love the sub-genre. There is something beautiful and sublime in tragedy. Ever since I first read Hamlet as a kid. Even Romeo and Juliet is pretty damn dark, despite how much people dislike the play and how many mediocre productions butcher it.

Dark fantasy plunges to new levels of suspense, tension, authenticity, and fear. It gets our hearts racing and then broken over and over.

So let’s talk about it

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Playing for High Stakes

One of the first things I was taught in one of my writing classes was to “play for high stakes”, which means that there should be a lot on the line for the characters in the story.

What does this accomplish? A few things. The characters have a lot to lose should they fail, the heart pounding tension of an action movie can be achieved, and because of the high stakes, the characters are forced to play and therefore drive the action.

So let’s talk stakes. As always, remember the first rule of writing is that there are no rules, so take what you like and what is useful to you. If nothing, then so be it.

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Things I Don’t Want to See Anymore in Fantasy.

This is going to be a list. This is not going to be “You absolutely cannot have these things if you want your story to be good.” These things may just be overdone or not executed well.

Also these are personal pet peeves, so take them with a grain of salt.

A final note. You can have some of these things. You can have all of these. But you need to execute them well or else they may risk reader groaning.

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