Remember that a good plot twist can't be thrown in at the end just to fool the reader. You have to play fair. When readers look back, they should be able to see all the clues and realize that everything fits into place. With a perfect twist ending, the reader ought to smack their forehead and say, "Wow, what a great ending! I should have seem that coming."
If you kept the reader guessing until the final confrontation, your twist was exceptional. Here are some tips to help achieve that goal:
- Use misdirection - keep your reader distracted. Like a magician, try to keep the reader's attention on something that will lead him astray from your final surprise ending.
- Foreshadowing - some hint near the beginning of the book that tells the reader what to expect, then rewards him for that expectation at the end (but hopefully after he's forgotten about it). The best foreshadowing is subtle and flows so well with the characters and plot that it isn't clear until hindsight it was priming the reader for the twist.
- Use a few red herrings - point the reader in the wrong direction, so that like in a maze, he bumps up against some blank walls. This can keep him confused and hopefully set him up for the twist at the end.
- Hide your clues in action, dialogue, lists, jokes, and dreams. Although the clues are there, they may not be obvious at the time, so the reader won't see the ending coming from a mile off. Yet when the twist does come, he can look back and recognize what he missed.
These are my suggestions to create well-written, emotionally satisfying plot twists. If you properly set up your reader's expectations, even when he doesn't get what he anticipated, he'll realize it's still what he wanted.
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