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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Contrary Act

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character do the opposite of what they're asked or told.

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, Business Time, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Contrary Act

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Contrary Act

For today's prompt, have a character do the opposite of what they're asked or told. Tension propels storytelling, and few things create tension more than having one or more characters do the opposite of what they're told (as the father of five children, I have a lot of "real life" experience with this).

(5 Ways to Increase Conflict in a Story.)

One of my favorite short stories ever is Herman Melville's "Bartleby," in which the narrator continually makes "reasonable" requests of his employee Bartleby, who often says, "I would prefer not to," if he says anything at all. The entire story is driven by the tension and mystery surrounding Bartleby's contrary actions and inactions.

But your character doesn't have to be shrouded in mystery. Maybe it's obvious why the character is doing a contrary act. Maybe the request is made by an ex-lover's current love interest, so there's some jealousy involved. Or maybe the request is being made by someone in authority, and the contrary act is committed by someone who doesn't trust authority. Or maybe the character is just "hangry."

A simple contrary act can set off a very complicated set of actions and reactions like a sort of Rube Goldberg machine of plot twists and turns sending your characters and plot lines into several different directions. In other words, one contrary act can lead to a very interesting story.

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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.

Click to continue.

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