Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we tell a tale within a tale.
Author:
Publish date:

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, True Feelings, here.

plot_twist_story_prompts_tell_a_tale_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

For today's prompt, have a character tell a story within the story. This is a popular storytelling technique that's been used through the ages to explain things that happened in the past or off camera. But it's also a great way to set the mood or foreshadow future events.

This is how stories are used in Watership Down, by Richard Adams. At times, they help set up the worldview of the rabbits and even contrast one warren from another. But the stories also set up the cleverness of El-ahrairah (sort of a Robin Hood character for the rabbits) with the cleverness of the rabbits themselves, especially Hazel.

(25 Ways to Start a Story.)

But you don't have to have a series of tales like in Watership Down. Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon includes a popular tale called the "Flitcraft Parable" about a man named Flitcraft who suddenly decided to leave his family, job, and golf habit in Tacoma to roam the world. After a few years, he settles back into a new family, job, and golf habit in Spokane (about a four-hour drive from Tacoma). It's an interesting enough story on its own, but the story also gives readers something to discuss within the context of the novel (just Google "Flitcraft story" to see how many do).

Of course, William Shakespeare frequently liked to include a play within a play. It's a great way to mirror the actual story, but it can also be used to contrast with events. And it can definitely move things into a new direction, especially if the story told reveals something about other characters or events. 

Remember: There are many ways to tell a story. It can be revealed in dialogue, sure, but also in a letter, diary, newspaper clipping, or filtered through a secondary source.

*****

Build Your Novel Scene by Scene

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren't quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

Stohlman_10:31

Five Reasons to Write Flash Fiction: Understanding the Literary Love Child of the Short Story and Poetry

In this article, award-winning author Nancy Stohlman breaks down the difference between flash fiction, prose poetry, and short stories and explains what keeps readers on the hook.

Amir

The “Secret Sauce” Necessary to Succeed at a 30-Day Writing Challenge

In this article, author and writing coach Nina Amir lays out her top tips to master your mindset and complete a 30-day writing challenge.

Kane2

Crashing Into New Worlds: Writing About the Unfamiliar

Award-winning crime author Stephanie Kane explains how she builds characters unlike herself and navigates their worlds to create vivid and realistic stories.

plot_twist_story_prompts_without_a_trace_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.

WDVintage_10_29

Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.

new_agent_alert_barb_roose_books_such_literary_services_adult_christian_fiction_and_nonfiction

New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Grinnell_10:28

Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a spooky poem.

Richard_Shadowlands

Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.