Plot Twist Story Prompts: Missing Item

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we look at what happens when something goes missing.
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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, Animal Cameo, here.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Missing Item

For today's prompt, have something go missing. That something could be super important (like a briefcase full of money). Or it could be seemingly, though not necessarily, innocuous (like an old flash drive or pair of shoes). And yes, the "thing" that goes missing could actually be a person.

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One nice aspect of the missing item twist is that it forces characters to reveal things about themselves. Some characters will automatically assume the missing item was stolen (or kidnapped). Others will think it was misplaced (either by someone else or themselves).

Then, characters have to decide how much effort into finding the missing item. The briefcase of money and missing person may prompt an immediate reaction (and if not, that would be interesting too). Meanwhile, the seemingly innocuous thing may prompt little notice initially...until the character realizes the old flash drive has compromising information on it and/or the pair of shoes could be evidence used in solving a crime.

Of course, a character could be preoccupied with solving the missing item mystery while dealing with other plot points (aka, the "real story") only to learn that the missing item was there all along (under the couch, behind the dishwasher, or in a cabinet). In such cases, the missing item acts as a sort of red herring.

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Build Your Novel Scene by Scene

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