Writing Short Stories With A Twist

By Tom D Gnagey

It is reported that Alfred Hitchcock loved the short story as a literary medium because it lends itself so well to creating unforeseen twists. Here are six hints for creating short stories with a twist.

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint ONE:

There is something I call ‘reader investment’ that applies when considering the ideal length for stories with a twist. In book length pieces, readers become firmly attached to character and the trend of the story. To disrupt or violate all that at the end with a twist, which denies all that, can be disappointing and even distressful for many readers. (The Sting, is a masterful and notable exception.) In shorter pieces the reader investment doesn’t get a chance to configure itself, so the twist doesn’t disrupt the reader and, in fact, will typically be enjoyed as an unforeseen delight.

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint TWO:

In, perhaps, a clumsy way of stating it, the final twist must not be illogically born from the early plot, character traits, and motivation, but neither must it be in any way telegraphed ahead of its presentation. I enjoy writing Hitchcock type stories. My goal is always to introduce the twist at the last possible moment – in the final sentence and even better, in the final few words of the final sentence. I typically spend more time creating the presentation of the twist than I do writing the rest of the piece. The author must have the twist clearly in mid from the outset. It is the target toward which he writes.

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint THREE:

Most of the story must be a subtle diversion away from the final twist. It does not dare be obvious. It does not dare raise a red flag (or even a pale pink one) in the reader’s mind. There must be nothing to suggest that the story is not proceeding to what seems like its logical or legitimate conclusion – even if that will not specifically be fully understood. (Why read any story if you know how it will end?)

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint FOUR:

It is more acceptable to make a bad guy into a good guy as the twist, than a good guy into a bad guy. It can be done with care and planning but it takes great skill. It is human nature to not want good things to turn sour. This is extremely important when planning short stories with a twist.

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint FIVE:

Always make certain your story delivers the twist without making the reader feel betrayed. I have shelved a number of stories because in the end I couldn’t find a way to overcome that obvious betrayal factor.

Writing Stories With A Twist: Hint SIX:

Spend lots of time reading and analyzing the all important structure of Hitchcock type short stories. You’ll find a large number by merely Googling ‘short stories with at twist’.

A great short story, which delivers an acceptable and unexpected twist is perhaps the most difficult from of story to pull off successfully. Happy writing!

Tom Gnagey is a successful, long time, writer with more than 100 original books and 350 stories in his personally published bibliography (seven pen names). He has rewritten dozens manuscripts for others. His education includes degrees in psychology, education, and philosophy. Tom is a nationally known speaker and creative writing teacher. For FREE SAMPLES of his stories and information about his Writing Rx services go to http://www.TomsBookNook.com now.

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