Writing is a tricky craft. Sometimes getting a story started is the hardest part. Other times, it's figuring out the grand finale. And then, there are all the twists and turns between the beginning and the end. That's where this post aims to help.
After all, that's where a majority of the writing and the reading is done. But most fun stories don't follow a simple Point A to Point B path even if the plot is as simple as a fellowship of characters delivering a ring from one place to another. In fact, most stories worth reading take more than a few side paths and alleyways on their way to the end.
So I've collected 25 plot twist ideas and prompts to help writers spark new directions in their stories when they're feeling stuck. Each idea is stated concisely below. But if you click on each link, you'll find a more detailed description of the prompt with some ideas of how you can twist things up in your own stories.
25 Plot Twist Ideas and Prompts for Writers
- The Old Acquaintance. Have an old acquaintance emerge from a character's past.
- The Unknown Fear. Character reveals a previously unknown fear or phobia.
- Antagonist Gain. The story's antagonist receives a new benefit.
- Unexpected Action. Character does something completely unexpected.
- Weather Breaks. The weather plays a role in the plot of the story.
- Personal Artifact. Character finds an object from their past.
- Animal Cameo. An animal makes an appearance in the story.
- Missing Item. An item (or a person) goes missing.
- Uncharacteristic Character. Character starts acting out of character.
- True Feelings. Someone admits their true feelings about something or someone.
- Tell a Tale. Character tells a story within the story.
- Blocked Passage. Block a passage for your characters.
- New Person. Insert a new person and see what happens.
- Something Breaks. Whether it's an antique or technology, break something.
- Authority Figure. Introduce an authority figure to the story.
- Unintended Message. Character stumbles across an unintended message.
- Sudden Death. Whether nefarious or natural causes, someone must die.
- Stuck Together. Bring two characters together, whether they like it or not.
- New Power. Reveal a new power for one of your characters.
- Divine Act. Have something unexpected and uncontrollable happen.
- Release the Monster. Release the kraken, the hounds, or toddlers.
- Fall Ill. Have a character get sick.
- New Hurdle. Throw a new hurdle in front of your protagonist.
- Fight or Flight. It's time to fight, whether with words, fists, or food.
- Without a Trace. Have a character leave without a trace.
If you find these helpful, check back every Thursday for more plot twist story prompts here.
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.