Theme Week: Twist Endings
I love the Twilight Zone—and all well executed twisty stories—but, let’s face it, the very title of the show has become synonymous with cliché and trope. That’s not to say you can’t write a great twist ending anymore. (Or enjoy a good TZ marathon.) Films such as the Usual Suspects and Memento are classic because of their twists.
But for a twist to work, it has to happen because it’s what needs to happen. That is, the ending needs to be organic to the story. The twist should add another layer of meaning, but at the very least it can’t be just for the sake of the gotcha.
And you have to play fair with the reader. Lay the groundwork for the twist in your story, but don’t make it too obvious. Don’t make all the characters too idiotic to figure out what’s going on. Don’t deliberately hide a fact just to prevent the reader from figuring it out until the very end. Don’t have a character wake up and find it’s all been a dream (or virtual reality or a book). The reader doesn’t want to feel fooled or tricked—or feel like you cheated. (Or didn’t know what you were doing.)
Some readers, though, are gonna hate the twist no matter what. Just like some people hate ambiguous endings or cliffhangers. But plenty of us like all three—as long as they’re well done. SyFy still runs a Twilight Zone marathon every New Years (and at least one other time a year). I can’t be the only one watching it!
How do you guys feel about twists? Any favorites (or not)?
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.