When done right, a plot twist can infuse the story with a whole new level of drama that keeps the reader reading. There are different types of plot twists, and each one has its own function for moving the story forward. But remember, just because plot twists exist, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Putting in a grand reveal just for shock value will only make the story you’ve worked so hard on, feel a little cheap.
Just like the name suggests, this comes about when one character is presumed to be on one side of the conflict, but then later betrays their loyalties. It is one of the more common plot twists used. And typically, this kind of plot twist happens when the traitor is someone on the protagonist’s side. However, it can be just as interesting if not more interesting when the betrayal occurs on the antagonist’s side.
This plot twist is an exposure of a truth about the world that has been hidden from the protagonist. The main character gets a reveal of the “true state” of the world around them, which then challenges their fundamental idea of their place in the world and how they fit into it. It’s a great starting point for them to go on a hero’s journey.
The Different Identity
This is a plot twist that happens when one character is revealed to not be who they said they were. This can either have a positive or negative impact on the plot, so be wary when using a different identity.
Giving a character a backstory is essentially making them a more well-rounded character. It’s allowing your audience to get a better picture of who they are and what their motives might be.
Backstories are important to all characters – not just the main characters. Side characters, and especially villains, can greatly benefit from having a backstory of their own. It makes them much more real and grounded characters that have layers. Backstories allow you to write characters rather than caricatures.
But how do you write a backstory without it coming across as cliche or an info dump? There is a trick.
I like to think of a character’s backstory as an iceberg. You’ve got the top 5 percent that you see, while the other 95 percent is hidden beneath the surface. Much like Hemingway’s Iceberg Principle, if you tell the important parts of a character’s backstory, the whole thing will be easily inferable for the reader.
That is why, it would be a good idea to write out your character’s entire backstory – just get it all out there on paper. However, the trick is to not take everything from the backstory and dump it straight into your novel. Be strategic. Give the audience only the important or relevant backstory pieces that will help to propel the story forward. Your protagonist being an introvert might not be as necessary information to the story as them being an orphan. But if you write their backstory well enough, the reader will be able to infer the bits that are left out.
Basically, you should always make a backstory for your characters, but don’t feel the need to dump it all into the book. It is okay to leave some stuff out. That is what makes for a well-developed character.