Plot twists occur in movies and novels when there is an unexpected turn of events. They are a tool used by most writers of narrative works. I think they may also happen in life.
Plot twists change the trajectory of a story. It becomes different. Sometimes an author or scriptwriter ‘foreshadows’ the plot twists. The plot twists still come as a surprise, although the seeds have been sown earlier in the work.
Last night I watched the final episode in the excellent miniseries,The Principal, on SBS TV. The drama revolves around the new principal of a dysfunctional Sydney boys’ school. There are frequent plot twists in each episode.
Each episode concludes with a highly dramatic, even shocking, new event. The miniseries as a whole makes uncomfortable viewing. This is particularly so in light of the recent shooting of a Sydney police staff member by a fifteen-year-old schoolboy. But the plot twists brought me back anxiously to the TV set for four episodes.
A quick Google search provides stacks of information about plot twists. They come in many forms. Writers use them in different ways and for different effects. They help to sustain the dramatic interest in the work.
Personal plot twists
In the last few weeks, I’ve begun to dust off a novel I wrote years ago. There are 65 000 words of a first draft languishing on my computer, waiting for attention. It’s one of several new projects I have in mind. I’ve begun to think seriously about what the novel needs. What is lacking. Plot twists! That’s what’s missing.
So I’ve been reading widely about plotting. Every novel I open undergoes my ‘plot twist test’.
Like everyone’s, my life has had the odd problem. The times when nothing went to plan. When a smooth-sailing patch was disrupted. Decisions that turned out poorly. Jobs that went pear-shaped. A home invasion.
There have been major personal tragedies. Deaths of two babies, my parents, friends. Unexpected abandonment. Each event changed my life. Each one left an impression. Some left deep scars.
How can a woman get to my age without working out something so simple? Those events were plot twists in the narrative of my life.
I began this week with a one-kilometre swim. It was, I thought, a good beginning a few very busy weeks. I thought there was no time to fit anything else in. But before I went inside, I stepped backwards off a curb and pulled a muscle in my calf.
Never mind that this is the week one of our bathrooms was to be renovated. There’s been mess, noise and dust. Plans disrupted? More like a minor plot twist!
I’ve had time to think while I’ve sat with my leg iced, elevated and resting. I’ve resolved in future to (try to) embrace the inevitable disruptions, disturbances and tragedies as essential to the narrative of my life. They’re plot twists.