I’ve read that readers love interesting characters who defy the usual patterns because its a safe way to experience some rather strange behaviors without any of the risks. The emotional charge is there, but the consequences are controlled. Close the book, turn out the lights, and sleep in the security of your routines. But, another chapter of the unpredictable awaits. This is what we offer: safe excitement, free drama, easy thrills. That’s OK. The alternative is even more dismal.
The twist and reversal are so powerful. It’s one of those thrills we all love (except when they happen to us). My friend Solange builds her stories around these reversals. She lives for them, and I suppose so do her readers. Not a bad technique: develop a pattern of upsetting the patterns.
Umm, could you reverse the expectation that a suspected twist was sure to come? [Could you put a twist on the twist, like doing a “double twist” in Olympic Skating?] Now that would be challenge. I just saw “Now You See Me” on HBO. It is the story of one “bait and switch” after another, built layer upon layer by the mind-games of a group of magicians. The group is ultimately outmatched by the Master Magician who has spent many years setting them all up for the biggest reversal of all: he, who has played the role of the dimwitted cop chasing the criminal magicians is himself the ultimate criminal, and has played everyone. I found it a very satisfying experience, and I suspect it was the “ah hah” of each turn in the plot that made it work for me.
Now, to do that. Let’s see, where are my skates?