Wednesday, November 17, 2021

To Swerve or Not To Swerve

I'm sick of the swerve. The twist. The sudden moment where EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW WASN'T TRUE.

We've become addicted to the idea that the story must subvert its audience, that creators have to outsmart us in order to entertain us. And mind you, while it can be perfectly entertaining to have expectations subverted, especially in the crime/mystery genre, I'd posit that it's also extremely satisfying to know exactly what we're getting.

And we do, don't we? More often than not, we know our stories will involve good beating bad. That our heroes will learn lessons and grow. It's the road to get there that counts, but why do we insist that road take unnecessary turns every single time?

I've found that trying to subvert the expectations of readers can often lead me to write towards a twist as opposed to a resolution, and while a good outline can iron out the kinks that come with writing to the twist as opposed to writing to the end, I still think it's unfair to the writer and reader when that twist holds more priority than anything else in the story.

I mean, how often do those twists and swerves really leave us amazed? I find myself feeling betrayed more often, especially when writers decide to change characters' personalities or intelligence levels simply to serve said betrayal.

As I write this, I'm trying to think about the last time a last minute twist really sent me for a loop - in a good way - and I can't seem to think of one? I can say the last time I stood up and cheered in a theater was in the absolutely obvious from beginning to end Avengers: Endgame. We all knew what was going to happen, but you know what? We were all mostly satisfied.

So again, when was the last time I was really blown away by the third act twist? The Sixth Sense? What Lies Beneath? The end of the Thriller video? I'm not entirely sure. 

Now, I try to avoid thinking about those swerves until the story demands it of me. I treat my outlines and drafts as simple as possible, as a story that goes from point to A to B to C until I find an opportunity for enhancement by skipping B to get to J. That method's helped me to better my craft and to appreciate my ideas for what they are. 

That said, do you write for the twist? Or would you rather discover it organically? Discuss below.

Or don't. It doesn't matter because I NEVER read the comments.

Stream Twist (ft. M. Night Shyamalan) by Rebel28 | Listen online for free  on SoundCloud

No comments: