Once upon a time, I was looking at a Buzzfeed list-article. I vaguely remember what it was about specifically, but it was certainly some sort of “X (genre here) books you need to read this year!” that we all know Buzzfeed’s staff is fond of writing. Under each and every book they mentioned, they was a description of the premise, and why it was the bomb and why everyone and their mother and their dog should read it. I skimmed them since most were non-fiction books that I wasn’t really interested in reading (and the YA they did mention, I had already read), but then one complaining comment caught my utmost attention, and it got me thinking.
How would you define a “twist”? You’re casually reading along, getting to know the characters and getting the feel of the story, when BAM! Something happens – your eyes widen, your heart paces, your pores open up and perspire, and the only thing you can mutter is, “What the heck happened?!” A twist is that merciless train that whoozes right in front of you that you didn’t see coming and you’re left feeling breathless. For me, this is a turn of events that the reader doesn’t expect.
But what if you do know there is a twist later on in the book? What happens then? Can you still call it a twist when you’re already expecting it?
I found this question interesting because thinking about it, when you know there’s already a twist in the book, you would unconsciously guard yourself. A twist is only absolutely effective when you’re not expecting it, but during the times I’ve read reviews prior to reading the book, and have been made aware of potential twists, I couldn’t help but think of the “possible” twists that may happen along the way. Yes, I would keep reading, but I would be 50% more attentive than usual because I’d be reading between the lines and analysing the events that happen; I’d try to see what the author may have thought of that would blow the reader’s mind away, taking every possible scenario into consideration.
By actually doing this, I’m taking away a lot of the potential impact the twist may give me. What if I pictured thousands of possible scenarios, and one of them winds up being right? I would end up disappointed because I “saw it coming”. Here I would be, a black sheep among many who read and reviewed and flailed about the twist. It left me thinking then: what about my reviews where I talked about the existence of a BIG twist? Did people who read the book end up disappointed, too, because knowing of its existence ruined it for them?
After careful thought, however, I realized that just because I am a critical and analytical reviewer and reader, it doesn’t mean others are, too. I know many people who would read a review, discover certain, vague things about the book, and still have a great time reading it. Just because they know there’s a twist doesn’t mean they would drive their minds crazy thinking what this twist could be.
Maybe it’s just me.
But one thing is for sure, I’ve read books where I’ve known there would be twists in it, and my reactions have ranged from disappointed to amazed. There may have been times where I guessed what the big “turn of events” could be, but there also have been times where despite my a-thousand-and-one guesses, I still wasn’t able to see them coming, and that, my friends, had led to a reaction bigger than taking the impact of the twist unexpectedly, because that’s where you’ll realize the author has outsmarted you.
What about you? What do you think about this subject? Does knowing the existence of a twist ruin it for you? Do you agree or disagree with my sentiments?
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