Plot Twist Story Prompts: Uncharacteristic Character - Writer's Digest

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Uncharacteristic Character

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we consider how a story changes when a character starts acting out of character.
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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, Missing Item, here.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Uncharacteristic Character

For today's prompt, make one of your characters start acting out of character. Have the bad guy do something nice or endearing. Have the good guy do something questionable. Or maybe a normally reliable character suddenly can't be counted on for anything.

(The difference between character habits and quirks.)

This may seem like a rather straightforward prompt, but avoid the trap of making your character's uncharacteristic behavior artificial. Make the change, sure. But think deeply about what's causing the change in behavior. 

Is the character under a magic spell or the influence of a drug (or blackmail)? Perhaps, they're distracted by some event or news that the other characters don't know. Maybe the uncharacteristic behavior is just revealing who they've always been and had been concealing for so long.

Whether it's a momentary lapse or a new phase of the character's overall development, having a character act out of character can help drive a story in fascinating new directions.

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