Plot Twist Story Prompts: Shock to the System

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Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Unexpected Mission, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Shock to the System

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Shock to the System

For today’s prompt, send a dramatic shockwave through your story. What that shockwave is can be dramatically different depending upon the circumstances of the world your characters live in. For instance, a shock to the system could be as significant as a military invasion on a city or as dramatic as a stock market crash crushing the fortunes of a wealthy investor.

(5 Ways to Surprise Your Reader Without It Feeling Like a Trick.)

The benefit of a shock to the system plot twist is that it does force characters into motion, usually in completely new trajectories. This can be exciting for the reader and the writer alike, because it creates completely new dynamics, relationships, and goals for the characters. What was once the chief objective may now be a secondary goal (or not even a consideration anymore).

However, this specific device should be used sparingly and only in the right circumstances. If you end your story on a shock to the system plot twist, readers are going to feel cheated. If you use it multiple times, the shocks will lose their impact; also, readers will start to feel detached, because they can’t trust the world they’re reading.

Earlier I mentioned war and financial collapse as possible shocks, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of which, other shocks could include sinking ships, exploding volcanoes, violent hurricanes, unexpected deaths, and exposed affairs. Of course, shocks don’t always have to be bad: Winning the lottery is one example of a good shock that could completely alter the trajectory of a story.

So send a shockwave through your story and see what happens next.


40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers: Writing Ideas for Bending Your Stories in New Directions, by Robert Lee Brewer

Have you hit a wall on your work-in-progress? Maybe you know where you want your characters to end up, but don’t know how to get them there. Or, the story feels a little stale but you still believe in it. Adding a plot twist might be just the solution.

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