6 Ways to Avoid Being Predictable
I have discovered that I can predict plot twists. A lot of people don’t like that I can do that. I have a few friends who recommend things and I predict the end of the series or the book and it doesn’t surprise me like it surprised them (like Legend of Korra, one of my friends was surprised that I guessed the first season villain and how he did it). Whatever I do that makes it so the major plot twists don’t surprise me, I still love reading because I don’t catch everything. So here are 6 ways to avoid being obvious about your plot twist and how to keep your readers interested.
1. Be subtle.
Do not start out your book by giving the reader the plot twist. Don’t do it. End of discussion. Don’t be too subtle. The reader needs to know that something will happen, they just don’t need to know it when they open the book or start reading the story. You can have the book start at the end, with all the aftermath right in front of your reader, that is fine. You should lead and guide your reader to the end, that’s what keeps them around. But be aware that it will seem obvious to you and that you might need to just change all of it. Don’t. Let someone else read it first. They can give you feedback that you can use to make sure your story is plot and not just surprises.
2. Lead up to the twist.
As you go through the plot, drop hints. These can be anything. A sly look or the character not quite believing some information can lead to the reader being aware something is going to happen, but not necessarily what. Dropping hints can be difficult, but it comes with developing characters. Your twist (whatever kind of thing that might be) will leave some trace. It could be a note left discreetly, but the protagonist might only see the flicker of paper out of the corner of their eye. Or a city being wary of travelers, but the protagonist only sees people that have been beat down by oppression. Give your reader signs that something is off. That leads to a good ending.
3. Be aware that other predictions exist and use them.
This means someone is going to have to read your book while it is being written. You can give them a couple chapters, or pages depending on the length, and get feedback with what they think is going to happen. When you get feedback, you can be sneaky to lead your readers down a path and then toss them off the proverbial cliff. This keeps your true plot twist from being recognized, and also lets the reader think they have it figured out. You can guide them by having supporting characters mention the things that lead to your twist, and interpreting them differently than what the actual result will be.
4. You can use a variety of tools to move towards the twist.
There are many ways to move towards the plot twist. I have mentioned some, but depending on how close you are getting to the revealing, you might want to start making more dramatic references to something that is about to happen. A good way to do this is to give readers a clear perspective change. Go from the main character to someone else that is with them, or a villain, or an outsider. Give the reader a clue as to the rapidly rising conflict that the main character will soon face. Beware that this way might be too obvious if you haven’t been doing it consistently throughout the story, but it is still a good way to bring it to the reader’s attention. Another way is to have the protagonist start connecting some of the hints that you have laid out. You can have a support character bring up some points and give an accurate idea to what will happen, and readers might catch on because this idea will fit everything together, where other ideas left out pieces.
5. Give the reason behind the twist.
Nothing just happens. Great plot twists come about because characters have different motivations. Betrayal doesn’t happen because you want it to. Ultimately, yes, that’s how it works, but you should have character based reasons as to why it happens. The explanation doesn’t have to be detailed or descriptive. You can have the last words that someone says be something along the lines of “you weren’t good enough for this” or “I am better than you are and it should have been me” because it doesn’t matter how many times that these reasons are given, they are unique to characters and their backgrounds. As long as you can justify the death of a favorite character or the betrayal of a loved one your readers will eventually forgive you.
6. Give a conclusion.
Your story is more than the twists and turns. There is (or should be) a destination. Once you have exposed your plot twist be sure to continue the story. The world shouldn’t completely fall apart after the twist happens. There should be more. It doesn’t matter how much more as long as there is an ending. You don’t have to answer every question here. You can leave something open if you want to lead into the next book or if you want to keep your readers questioning. But you have to give your readers something.
HAHA PLOT TWIST! There is a seventh tip. Betcha didn’t see that coming.
7. Someone (possibly like me) might find it obvious, and that’s okay.
Yes. Someone might figure it out before the end. That’s fine. It’s not the end of the world. You just have to include more than one plot twist. That makes a story worth reading. You can have one large twist and lots of smaller ones to support it. No one will guess everything. There is always something your reader won’t catch the first time reading it.
Plot can make or break a story. It is important to make sure that you give your readers something to look forward to. Whether it’s a plot twist or just some crazy end result, these tips should help you keep your readers on their toes.
I’m done for real this time.