“Come on, Baby! Let’s do the . . .”


. . . TWIST!

I’m not really talking about dancing (although, if I knew how, I’d have Chubby boy singing in the background today.) I’m talking about adding the unexpected.

To keep readers reading (and yourself from getting bored while you’re writing) the best way I know is to give your story a little twist.

IOW (In Other Words) –Go with the unexpected.

I’m not sure how most people write, but I usually start by finding the turning points. (The places where the book takes a new tack.) Those are wonderful places to do the twist. And, for me, the ending is an absolutely necessary place to do the dance.

How? you ask.

When you come to a TP or anyplace you want to give your writing some umph, make a list of the ways the story can go. Write them down. Number them.


Story line: You’re writing a haunted historical. Your main character is having a house-warming party, and there’s a maid posted at the door to take the gentlemen’s hats and the ladies’ wraps.

Turning point: Main character learns the house is haunted. How do you show it?

  1. The room is crowded and people are just warming up to each other when the ghost pops into the room, stampeding the crowd.
  2. The host is secretly watching to see who’s coming to the party when he sees that several of the guests are transparent (ghosts.) He quickly realizes they’re all people he’s harmed in his past.
  3. A line of guests are waiting to hand the maid their hats. One steps up, and when he takes off his hat, his entire head comes with it.
  4. Host is dancing with a beautiful guest, and when he finally stops looking past the guest to see who else is at the party, he looks into her eyes and finds there’s nothing there. (She has no soul.)
  5. Or (this one’s my favorite) if you want to give it a real twist, write the scene from the POV of the ghost. She’s starving for some social activity, so she tries to join the party without being detected. Can a dead woman be the life of the party???

Okay, you have them listed and numbered. Conventional wisdom says, “Delete #1.” But I don’t believe in that, because sometimes my best ideas come first. Instead, I try to put myself in the mindset of a stranger-reader (a stranger who’s reading your story, not to be confused with a reader who’s strange.)

Which twist will have the biggest impact while making the most sense? If you’re not writing an amusing story, having a dead ghost want to be the life of the party might not work, but having a soulless ghost waltzing with the host might.

In the end, the decision is yours. My best advice?

Don’t be boring. 🙂


4 thoughts on ““Come on, Baby! Let’s do the . . .”

  1. I like #4 and 5. One of my favorite episodes of Ghost Whisperer took place on a cruise. The boat was being retired after 80 years of cruising, so there were several ghosts onboard. One was a beautiful woman, dressed to the nines, who was still having the time of her life despite being dead. Great fun.

  2. One of my favorite books is a murder mystery. The detective has this buddy he plays basketball with. The excercise gives him time to work out the whodunnit part. At the end of the book–the dectective learns his buddy is a ghost! I love that twist.

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