Twist Ending

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Twist Ending

Postby robert 46 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:24 am

The "twist ending" literary device is said to occur in the following patterns:
1: CHEKHOV'S GUN refers to a situation in which a character or plot element is introduced early in the narrative, then not referenced again until much later. Often the usefulness of the item is not immediately apparent until it suddenly attains pivotal significance. A similar mechanism is the "plant," a preparatory device that repeats throughout the story. During the resolution, the true significance of the "plant" is revealed.

2: CLIFFHANGER is an abrupt ending that leaves the main characters in a precarious or difficult situation, creating a strong feeling of suspense that provokes the reader to ask, "What will happen next?" Cliffhangers often frustrate the reader, since they offer no resolution at all. However, the device does have the advantage of creating the Zeigarnik effect (unfinished or interrupted tasks are better remembered). A cliffhanger is often employed at the end of an installment of serialized novels, movies, or in most cases, TV series.

3: DEUS EX MACHINA is a Latin term meaning "God out of a machine." It refers to an unexpected, artificial or improbable character, device or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction to resolve a situation or untangle a plot.

4: DISCOVERY, or ANAGNORISIS, is the protagonist's sudden recognition of their own or another character's true identity or nature.

5: FLASHBACK, or ANALEPSIS, is a sudden, vivid reversion to a past event. It is used to surprise the reader with previously unknown information that provides the answer to a mystery, places a character in a different light, or reveals the reason for a previously inexplicable action.

6: IN MEDIAS RES (Latin: "into the middle of things") is a technique in which narrative proceeds from the middle of the story rather than its beginning. Information such as characterization, setting, and motive is revealed through a series of flashbacks. This technique creates a twist when the cause for the inciting incident is not revealed until the climax.

7: NONLINEAR NARRATIVE works by revealing plot and character in non-chronological order. This technique requires the reader to attempt to piece together the timeline in order to fully understand the story. A twist ending can occur as the result of information which is held until the climax and which places characters or events in a different perspective.

8: POETIC JUSTICE is a literary device in which virtue is ultimately rewarded or vice punished in such a way that the reward or punishment has a logical connection to the deed. In modern literature, this device is often used to create an ironic twist of fate in which the villain gets caught up in his/her own trap.

9: RED HERRING is a false clue intended to lead investigators toward an incorrect solution. This device usually appears in detective and mystery fiction. The red herring is a type of misdirection, a device intended to distract the protagonist, and by extension the reader, away from the correct answer or from the site of pertinent clues or action.

10: REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, or PERIPETEIA, is a sudden reversal of the protagonist's situation, whether for good or ill, that emerges naturally from the character's circumstances. Unlike the deus ex machina device, peripeteia must be logical within the frame of the story.

11: REVERSE CHRONOLOGY works by revealing the plot in reverse order; i.e. from final event to initial event. Unlike traditional chronological storylines, which progress through causes before reaching a final effect, reverse chronological storylines reveal the final effect before tracing the causes leading up to it; therefore, the initial cause represents a "twist beginning" as a "twist ending."

12: UNRELIABLE NARRATOR twists the ending by revealing, almost always at the end of the narrative, that the narrator has manipulated or fabricated the preceding story, thus forcing the reader to question their prior assumptions about the text.
-from Wikipedia "Plot Twist" [abbreviated from the original]

Flashback, in medias res, nonlinear narrative, and reverse chronology are similar in that they refer to the sequence in which the story is presented. Deus ex machina, poetic justice, and reversal of fortune are similar to each other; and cliffhanger might also be seen to fit in with them. The remaining four are diverse. But taken together these seem like too few techniques to be exhaustive. Perhaps you know of, or can think up, another basic technique for a "twist ending".
robert 46
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Postby tvelection » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:05 pm

Fascinating subject (plot twist devices) I haven't yet come up with one that isn't able to be categorized under those you mention. So many twists fall under Discovery (or revelation). It might be that these archetypes have been in use since the first Greek plays at the Dionysus festivals and through Shakespeare and to present media. The only thing changing may be the details, style, and manner. Yet maybe there is room for additions to the list given imaginative writers and directors to add to the list or vague endings like "Pan's Labyrinth" leaving one unsure of twist altogether. I like Rod Serling's writing in the original "Twilight Zone" he was bold with plot twists. Also in an Alfred Hitchcock episode, (another effective suspense writer) "The Second Wife" a woman has a quickly wedded a husband she just met. He begins locking the basement, digging at night, hauling in a 6ft. pine box, and denying to his wife who saw him bringit in while watching from a window. Still, no one even knew what happened to his first wife. Anyway, when he calls her down to the basement she is prepared and shots him as he comes up to get her. Only when she goes down to the basement there is a new furnace in the dirt floor with a card that reads "Happy Anniversary." It was a misdirect of circumstantial evidence quite contained in the categories you list.

Comedy also uses devices over and over, and there are many, for instance a character says "I will never go to Yankee stadium!" and the next scene they are in Yankee stadium (the words/ action direct contradiction) or the sarcasm-taken-literally lines. It's as if we repeat such, plot, dramatic, or comedic devices over and over and the wit comes in doing these same things in a new way.

But back to plot twists we the audience have become so atune to them that we have an expectation or suspicion in thinking forward in a book or film. It may be that a avante-garde set of new twists would either render the plot irrelevant or take a new direction in a subplot leaving the twist open ended, as in a cliffhanger. Sometimes a device is faked and "twisted"to another twist pattern. Regardless such "new" devices would be interesting to create or find. There are probably more such twists in unscripted life that a observant writer may find.
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Postby tvelection » Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:58 am

Last edited by tvelection on Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby phobos rising » Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:43 am

To me a "twist ending" is where a soaked sponge or cloth
is twisted to squeeze out a liquid at the end of some task.
phobos rising
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