Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unintended Message

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we explore what happens when a character finds a message that's not intended for them.
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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, Authority Figure, here.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unintended Message

For today's prompt, allow one of your characters to find a message that's not intended for them. It could be a text or an email. Or the message could be in a bottle, envelope, or safe. The character who finds the unintended message might happen upon it on accident. Or perhaps, they were seeking it or some other object out.

The cool thing about the unintended message situation is that it can twist stories in so many directions at once. For instance, there's the dynamic of who the sender is and who the target audience is. Did the target audience receive the message already, or does the unintended person now hold all the cards? Is the message about the person who intercepted it unintentionally? There are so many ways to take this one.

(10 Nicholas Sparks quotes for writers and about writing.)

And remember: The unintended message is only the beginning. It can kick off an entire series of actions and reactions that may be explained or unexplained to the other characters that cause them to act and react in explained or unexplained ways until there's finally a moment of understanding, which may happen just in time or just too late for other characters to do the right thing (whatever that may be).

So take your story, whether it's a mystery, adventure, literary, horror, science fiction, rom-com, or whatever your genre, and insert a message that's not intended for a character and let the action twist and turn from there.


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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.

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