Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind. The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!
EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING
Three Little Questions
Norm Brown, Author of Carpet Ride
As a writer and avid reader of mystery novels, I love a good plot twist. Like that special seasoning in a favorite recipe, they are often what turn a simple story into an intriguing tale. The unexpected is what keeps readers turning the pages. However, like the food seasoning, plot twists can be overdone or simply distracting. Whether creating the timeline for a novel or writing the first draft, I like to keep my mind open to possible twists and surprises that could be stirred in to make the story more exciting and suspenseful. Some are included in my novel and many are tossed away. To help me decide, I came up with three little questions to keep in mind as I work through each scene.
What if? As I come to each scene, usually a complete chapter, I have a pretty good idea what needs to happen in order to simply advance the plot (or a subplot) of the book, but as I’m filling in the details, I like to ask, “What if this was to happen instead of what the reader is expecting?” In my novel, Carpet Ride, I was surprised myself at how often the story expanded in a whole new direction. Seems to me, if you end up writing exactly the plot you started with, you probably missed some opportunities to make it better. So, turn your imagination loose and experiment with alternatives in the story.
Why? When it comes to plot twists in a mystery, I don’t believe in sheer coincidence. Whatever surprising thing happens, it should happen for a logical reason. The cause does not have to be obvious to the reader right at that moment, but as the story unfolds the logic of this particular sequence of events has to be believable or your reader will feel cheated.
What then? To avoid cluttering your novel with meaningless distractions, any sudden plot twist should add something to the story. Even if it turns out to be a red herring, the twist should advance the plot toward its eventual conclusion. Otherwise, it’s just filler. And nobody wants to read filler.