There's nothing more intense than subverting the audience's expectations: The righteous character that always says the truth says a lie. The character that values all life ends up murdering someone. The bad sort, the punk that's always terrible ends up saving the day or doing something decent.
There's also nothing worse than throwing such a subversion in the plot, without actually earning it. It will feel forced, shoehorned, a copout, a sham. It will annoy or even anger your audience in the same way a customer buys medicine but then discovers it was snake oil.
What does it mean to earn a twist in the plot or in the character's reactions or behavior?
It means that every reaction must have its roots in an action that already took place and the impact of which gave rise to the particular reaction that is causing the subversion, the twist, the surprise in our story or our character.
And every such primary action that will force a character to act or react beyond their normal trajectories and framework has to be shown in some manner. It doesn't have to be in a linear manner, but it just has to be there.
There often seems to be a craze with authors and scriptwriters to surprise and ‘one-up’ the audience to the point that they do it at the expense of the plot and the narrative- by omitting scenes that would hint at what is coming for the observant viewers/readers, by completely hinting at a different thing altogether and then pulling the rug out from under the audience- a rug that previously wasn't even there, like some kind of ACME prank in the Roadrunner cartoon.
case in point
But when something like this happens, it's the equivalent of cheating the audience. It also comes across as cheap- as if the authors couldn't be bothered to write a proper build up and just threw a twist in for shock value to mask the poor quality of the plot. And audiences won't buy it.
It's better to accept (and even enjoy) the fact that SOME people in your audience WILL see the twist or the surprise coming- and that's fine! Some people in life can predict or deduct more things than the average person, and as a result they will also be able to surmise what a plot will lead to if that plot is good enough and solid enough to obey basic cause-and-effect relationships in its progression.
In the end, what the audience is looking for is a good, entertaining story- not a challenge of wits with the author like an awkward bras-de-fer.
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Sept. 8, 2018
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