27 April 2016

Wait, I Take It Back

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I felt so stupid and angry. I didn’t want to forgive Brian, not ever, and I wasn’t ready to forgive myself. It just seemed so easy to forgive Tom, because he was so f***ing pathetic, because I didn’t want to start over. 

Stories usually have a lot of twists and turns. Not everything that happens is going to be expected. If you want to keep the reader entertained, including a few surprises could be a good way to go. But how do you get things back on track after you've included a surprise? Does it lead your characters down a completely new road or is it more of a detour? 

What happens after the twist will probably depend on how big it is, or how it relates to the overall story. Is it something life changing or just something that temporarily throws your characters off? How do you recover from a twist (if recovery is even possible)? 

My issue is that I feel like I recover from my twist too quickly. There's something that happens at the end of Chapter 17 that is completely unexpected. I love the twist. LOVE IT. So much so that I'm not going to explain it and spoil it. I love everything about it, how it comes out of left field, my narrator's response to it. It's pretty much perfect (I think...). What I worry about is how fast I smooth things over. In the next chapter, actually. 

Basically one character does something bad to another. It seems like their relationship is over, but then some other unrelated bad things happen and the second character changes his mind. Then the character who did the bad thing explains why he did it and apologizes. And then we're back to normal. 

I just hope that the chain of events leading up to the apology doesn't make it seem so strange. But I also worry that the character's explanation basically takes back the bad thing he did. It's not completely swept under the rug but it's pretty much forgotten within a few chapters. Does this totally ruin the shock of the twist? Or should I find some other way to keep its impact going as the book continues? 

Do you ever "take things back" in a story? How do you deal with a twist?


  1. The twists in my stories are more a means of directing the story, moving things forward. I don't throw in an unexpected shift unless it fits the plotline. Otherwise, the shift/twist can get lost down the road and never get resolved.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge

  2. I have one twist planned for an upcoming novel that will be one of those earth-shattering, life-changing twists for certain characters. I'm not entirely sure how to pull it off, or how/when it would be resolved, but I'm very excited to attempt to figure it out.

    It's hard to comment on when a twist should be resolved without knowing the details of the twist itself and the characters affected by it, but that will certainly be something your beta readers can help you with.

  3. I have a novel (which needs much work and revision) that has a character in it who just sort of hangs around. Then when I got near the end this character steps up and is pivotal is resolving certain things. Until I wrote the scenes I had no idea what his purpose was in the story. That was a twist for me!

  4. I'm wondering if you couldn't edit what comes after to include a moment when the character who did does or says something that reminds the one who forgave of the original twist. Not the same, just a hint of it really. At which time, you could write a sentence or two (in italics) of the "old dialogue" or old feeling... something from the previous situation, so that the reader knows that a connection has been made. The character can then understand that these two things are not the same and move on. It says, "Forgiven but not forgotten." Since I don't know what it is, I don't know if or how well that would. But, you know and can decide if it would...:)

  5. Tricky question because I think part of the answer also depends on the gender of the character. Male characters might get over things easier than female characters, so Jordan getting over this twist fast might be a normal guy response. Where as a chick might dwell and need to talk to give over it.

  6. If it's bothering you, then I'd take it as a sign that the twist could be made to have a longer impact. I've had the same problem and it can be hard to rework a plot, but it is probably worth it. We're supposed to give our characters a hard time. Part of that is not fixing their problems too easily.

  7. I'm horrible at those types of decisions (as to if the recovery time is long enough). A lot of the time, I'm to the extreme where they just accept what's going on and roll with it. I've had to redo some of my stuff after getting second opinions from my local critique group members. So, my thought would be to let someone else read it, someone who you trust their logic, and see what they say.

    As for twists, well, I do love my curvy swervy way of writing. My friend just said yesterday, "you and your love of complicatedness!"

  8. I have the same issue about returning from the twist in the plot too early. I think it's because I don't want to veer too far from the main thread.

  9. I'm not yet brave enough to write a twist... but I LOVE reading them.
    How wonderful you like your twist so much! I have a question... Did you plot out the twist in advance, or did it kinda "write itself" and surprise you too?

  10. Sometimes if I write a passage that is a complete opposite of the voice/tenor of the current scene, I'll remove it and rewrite it in the correct tenor/voice. Only happens if I set down at my computer and I'm in a bent frame of mind.

    Father Nature's Corner

  11. Does the twist answer the story question? Does it change what you intended with the story? And does it move the story forward? I think if it does not answer the big story question and it does not change the whole tone and what you intended with the complete story and it moves your story forward its all good. I love a book that keeps handing me surprise early all the way to the end, but early cannot do the above or it ruins the book IMO. So it just depends on how twist and solution affect the whole story in the end. again IHO.

    Happy A to Z
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit