Plotting 4 Pantsers — Part IV

We’ve looked at the four essential elements of every plot twist. Last week, we reviewed three types of plot twists. This week, we’ll learn of two more. If you’re a “pantser” — how do you “plot?” By using story techniques like plot twists, character development, and raising the stakes. #Plotting4Pantsers #PlotTwists @donnalhsmith @a3writers TWEETABLE


“The real danger isn’t where you though it was.” The hunter is the hunted, the spy’s partner is a double agent, the protagonist’s daughter is a terrorist. These are ideas to get your creative juices going.

What stories can you think of that have used this type of twist? For the hunter is hunted, think of “The Most Dangerous Game.” Do you know that story? A big game hunter lures ships off his coast, they shipwreck. He entices the male passengers to go “hunting” with him on his island. The clueless passenger is never seen again.


Now this is a funny way of saying it, but the detective was really one step ahead of the villain the whole time and has set a trap that the other guy, and readers, didn’t see coming. Remember, the detective must solve the crime before readers do, or they’ll think they’re smarter than he is. There are things the detective knows that the reader doesn’t. You, as the author, will determine those secrets.

Another way of looking at the cleverness type of twist is to think of a con game. Two examples of cleverness: think Columbo and “The Sting.”

Here are a few questions to ask your manuscript about plot twists.

  1. Where do I need to shade the details and foreshadowing, so the twist is the most credible, inevitable ending to my story?
  2. What clues or evidence do I need to include to make the story stand on its own without the twist?
  3. Is the story improved by the twist? In other words, is it richer and more meaningful? If not, how can I construct the twist so that it adds depth to the story?
  4. How can I use this twist to both turn the story on its head and move it in a more satisfying direction?

Here are a few more tips:

  1. Create multiple worlds of inevitability
  2. Turn expectations on their head
  3. Eliminate the obvious
  4. Redirect suspicion
  5. Avoid gimmicks
  6. Write toward your readers’ reaction.

Plot twists, when done right, shock and delight the reader and enrich the story beyond their imagination. #Plotting4Pantsers #PlotTwists @donnalhsmith @a3writers TWEETABLE

For a “panster,” twists are one of the main techniques a writer can use to enhance their story without outlining the whole plot ahead of time. #Plotting4Pantsers #PlotTwists @donnalhsmith @a3writers TWEETABLE

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