Skip to main content

Plot Twist Story Prompts: What If Scenario

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, think about what your story would be like if it were not exactly how it seemed.

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, On The Run, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: What If Scenario

Plot Twist Story Prompts: What If Scenario

For today's prompt, take something that you accept for fact in your story and think about what it would be like if it weren't that way at all. Maybe there's a super supportive secondary character who is actually rooting (and maybe plotting) for the protagonist to fail. Perhaps the antagonist has been trying to do the right thing all along. Maybe that dream sequence earlier in the story actually happened.

(5 Ways to Surprise Readers Without It Feeling Like a Trick.)

I admit that this week's prompt is totally inspired by the Marvel Comics "What If..." series, which would ask these types of questions of long-established characters and storylines: What if, instead of X happening, Y happened? But there's no reason writers can't do that as well in their own stories.

There is, of course, a chance to really twist your story here, but be aware that you could also lose your readers if you use this tactic too frequently. Quite a few TV shows (looking at your The Flash and Once Upon a Time) take this tactic too far, so that viewers can't work up the ability to be emotionally invested in the characters after they've died (and come back to life) and changed sides (from good to bad and back again) so many times.

On the other hand, some of the best moments in storytelling history have come from learning that the antagonist actually had some good in them. Or that the coward or punching bag was actually the real evil mastermind. And so on.

Once you begin thinking this way, you'll find that the twists are limitless. But remember: With great plot-twisting ability comes great responsibility. So take a hard look at your story and think, what if it were different?

*****

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.

Heirloom

Heirloom

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, someone's shown up demanding your narrator's family heirloom.

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

Author May Cobb discusses offering readers a summer of mayhem with her new novel, My Summer Darlings.

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

Writer Stephen L. Moore discusses the benefits of having first-hand accounts for historical writing and offers advice on best practices in securing interviews while there’s still time.

From Script

Character Exploration and Development in Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers, showrunners and more who share a common thread of character exploration and development!

Janet Key: On Letting Your Novel Take Shape

Janet Key: On Letting Your Novel Take Shape

Author Janet Key discusses the experience of letting the novel take shape through the editorial process for her debut novel, Twelfth.

Benjamin Myers: On Fleeting Moments Becoming Finished Novels

Benjamin Myers: On Fleeting Moments Becoming Finished Novels

Award-winning author and journalist Benjamin Myers discusses the out-of-body experience of having the idea for his new novel, The Perfect Golden Circle.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 7 WDU Courses, a Chat With Ran Walker, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce 7 WDU courses, a chat about flash fiction with Ran Walker, and more!

Christopher Stollar | How to Crowdfund Your Book

How to Crowdfund Your Book

Crowdfunding in publishing has received a lot of attention in recent months. Successful crowd-funder and author Chris Stollar shares his tips for realistic and practical tips to make crowdfunding work for you.

12 Dos and Don’ts of Revealing Critical Backstory in a Novel

12 Dos and Don’ts of Revealing Critical Backstory in a Novel

How much backstory is too much backstory, and how do we know when we haven’t given enough? Here, bestselling author Jenna Kernan offers six dos and six don’ts of revealing critical backstory in a novel.