What Makes a Plot Twist Work?

stormy-800pxThere are few things I love more in this world than a book or movie with a great plot twist.  Plot twists can occur throughout a novel (a constant rollercoaster ride) or there can be one huge twist at the ending after pages of suspense.  Not all plot twists work for me.  In fact, so many fail (BEHIND HER EYES).  It is a difficult thing to pull off and an author has to be quite skillful.  There are certain elements that a story must have in place for a plot twist to be successful.

  • element of surprise (duh)
  • foreshadowing/clues
  • believable, logical or plausible
  • red herrings

Of course, these elements only work if the characterization and narration of the story is compelling. Points of view are are also important. How well do we know the narrator? Unreliable narrators, such as Rachel in GIRL ON THE TRAIN, are all the rage right now and I for one, LOVE IT!! It is difficult for these aspects to all come together in a story, but when they do, HOLY CYCLONE!!  A thing of beauty.