Top 3 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Twists

Top 10 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot Reveals

Top 10 Ways to Rivet Readers with Plot RevealsToday, I’m going to show you how to make stuff happen in your story. Duh, right? What could be easier? You put characters on the page, they dance around, stuff happens. Mission accomplished. Except if you’re not using plot reveals to execute all this happenin’ stuff, your readers may end up bored anyway.

What are plot reveals?

Whenever new information is unveiled in your story, you’ve created a plot reveal. Whenever this new information turns the plot, you’ve created an excellent plot reveal.

Secrets, suspense, and plot twists. Those are all the drool-worthy products of good plot reveals.

For example, all the major structural moments in a story (Inciting Event, Plot Points, Pinch Points, etc.) are plot reveals: new information and events that rock the protagonist’s world and advance the conflict. Sometimes a very fast-paced story (such as a movie or short story) can get away with only these eight main plot reveals. But most longer-form stories, such as novels, are going to need far more plot reveals than just these obvious structural gems.

How many plot reveals do you need in your book? Figure at least one per scene. You don’t want too many per scene, especially if they’re unrelated, since that can create a scattered focus. (As director John Ford once said, try to do just one thing per scene.) But if a scene fails to present at least one plot reveal, you have to ask yourself why that scene is even in the story. It’s not advancing the plot, and it’s probably not offering readers much of interest.

10 Types of Plot Reveals to Spice Up Your Story

Fortunately, creating reveals is one of the greatest joys of plotting. Today, I’m going to show you ten important variations on the plot reveal and how you can use them all to spice up your story and keep the plot engaging, thought-provoking, and moving forward.

Plot Reveal #1: New Information That Turns the Plot

The simplest (and most powerful) way to look at plot reveals is simply as new information that changes the story. The character learns about something that affects her view of the conflict, either altering a previous goal or providing a new goal altogether.

For Example:

In Andy Tennant’s Cinderella adaptation Ever After (click to read my Story Structure Database analysis), the plot shifts when the evil stepmother Rodmilla is told by her informer that Prince Henry will be playing tennis with a marquis the next day. This new information allows her to form the new goal of taking her daughters to watch the match—fortuitously placing her elder daughter Marguerite in Henry’s path, which feeds into her overall goal of making Marguerite the next queen of France.

Plot Reveal #2: Character-Specific Revelation

Not all plot reveals will dramatically change the exterior plot. Just as important are the smaller revelations that occur on a personal level for the characters, inspiring shifts or changes within their own world views and influencing their overall character arcs. The reveal that sparks this shift may be new information, but it’s just as likely to be something subtler, such as a discussion of feelings or beliefs with an impact character.

For Example:

The protagonist Danielle plays an impact character to Prince Henry’s positive change arc. As he falls in love with her over the course of the story, she inspires change in him. As with any realistic change, this occurs gradually, thanks to many small character-specific revelations.

When he takes her visit a monastery library, she is overcome by the beauty of so many books in one place. When he asks her, “What it is that touches you so?”, she reveals it is the memory of her late father reading to her. She confides, “I would rather hear his voice than any sound in the world.” This prompts Henry’s revelation that he has never lived life with the passion she demonstrates in every moment of every day—and he wants to.

Danielle and Henry in the Monastery

Plot Reveal #3: New Events That Turn the Plot

Sometimes plot reveals will come in the form of straight information, as in example #1. Other times, the new information will be dramatized in an event in which the protagonist takes part or witnesses. This is not a random event or one presented merely to foreshadow a later plot reveal. Rather, this is an event that immediately turns the plot and influences the conflict. The characters do or see something that changes them forever, in a way large or small. This new event alters the conflict so that they cannot go back to who they were or what they were doing in the previous scene.

For Example:

Ever After‘s Inciting Event occurs when a runaway Prince Henry steals Danielle’s father’s horse and tries to make his escape through the apple orchard. Danielle pelts him with apples, knocking him off the horse, before recognizing him and apologizing. He pays her for the horse and leaves.

This event turns the plot immediately, through the coins that allow Danielle to buy her loyal servant out of indentured servitude—and in several far-reaching ways later in the plot, including her own relationship with Henry. The new information introduced in this scene is “Prince Henry steals the horse,” but it is conveyed as a dramatized scene rather than straight info.

Danielle Pelts Henry With Apples in Ever After

Plot Reveal #4: Other Characters Discover Previous Plot Reveals

The fun thing about plot reveals is that you can milk them for all they’re worth. You can use a good plot reveal to turn the plot several times.

The first, of course, is whenever readers encounter the information for the first time. But after that, the reveal can continue to influence the plot each time a new character learns about this same information.

As long as the subsequent characters’ reactions to this one event keep turning the plot, you can keep creating interesting reveals. The fact that the readers already know about the initial event or information only heightens their enjoyment of the suspense, as they wait for the subsequent fallout.

For Example:

Prince Henry’s theft of the horse at the Inciting Event creates multiple reveals throughout the story. The first is when he gives back the horse (on his reluctant return to the palace) to the antagonist Rodmilla. Because Danielle did not tell her stepmother about the theft (in order to keep the coins a secret), Rodmilla’s discovery of the event provides the opportunity to once again turn the plot. Viewers understand her new knowledge will now negatively affect Danielle.

Rodmilla Learns of the Missing Horse

Plot Reveal #5: Characters Discover Other Characters’ Discovery of Previous Plot Reveals

And the cycle just keeps on spinning. Especially when you’re dealing with a plot reveal that one or more characters want to keep secret, you can use the secondary character’s discovery of the reveal to create yet another plot-turning moment: when the first character learns the second character has discovered the original plot reveal. As always, however, this discovery-of-the-discovery must turn the plot. It can’t be merely a passing of information: “Oh, by the way, Mom knows you broke curfew last night, but she’s decided not to say anything about it.”

For Example:

Good ol’ Henry and poor dead dad’s horse—they’re the gift that just keeps on giving. After Rodmilla discovers the theft in the previous scene, we get a delightful follow-up in which she informs Danielle of her discovery by forcing Danielle to try to explain what happened (without revealing the coins):

“Prince Henry stole our horse today?”

Yes, Prince Henry stole our horse today! And that would explain why he returned it!”

Why create conflict for just one scene when you can use the same catalyst to create the conflict for three or more scenes?

Prince Henry Stole Our Horse Ever After

Plot Reveal #6: Reader-Only Reveal

If you’re clever with your scene and chapter breaks, you can sometimes create the impression of a plot reveal without actually needing the characters to encounter any new information. By beginning scenes in medias res, after the characters have encountered certain low-conflict events or info, you can create a neat little hook to reveal their current situation to readers.

A few cautions for using this technique:

1. Don’t trick readers by opening the scene with a hook that makes it seem like something fascinating just happened, when really—it didn’t.

2. Don’t cut to in medias res if it means skipping out some good scene stuff. If what just happened was interesting or plot-moving in its own right, go ahead and show it.

3. Don’t use this technique if it means withholding from readers important information to which the protagonist is privy. Readers need to know what your protagonist knows when he knows it.

4. Don’t use this plot reveal too often. Because it is a revelation only to the readers, it runs the risk of distancing them from vicariously experiencing the protagonist’s journey.

For Example:

After the monastery scene, the story cuts abruptly to Danielle up in a tree in her kilted undergarments, while Henry paces below.

Say what?

Henry reveals Danielle is trying to figure out where they are when he says, “You’d think I would know the way to my own castle.” Henry and Danielle both knew what was happening in this scene, but because viewers did not, it allowed for a quick reveal in which they get to discover new information, rather than simply being told about it in a straightforward progression, in which Danielle says, “Whoops, we’re lost, let me climb this tree and figure out where we are.”

Danielle Climbs the Tree in Ever After

Plot Reveal #7: Surprise Actions

Another way to “fake” reveals is by giving readers the sense of something surprising without necessarily creating massive new plot changes. You can do this simply by having characters do or say things that are different from what readers initially expect. This is a fundamental principal of comedy: the scene is set up to roll in a seemingly expected direction, only to reverse at the last second, catching readers off guard in a pleasant (and funny) surprise.

The whole premise of plot reveals is that they bring the unexpected into the story. Their ability to change the plot is thanks to the element of the unforeseen—because if characters could foresee it, they would be able to prepare for it and it would fail to catch them off guard in a way that alters the plot.

Even when a surprise action doesn’t obviously alter the plot, it still functions to alter the readers‘ perception of the story, keeping them on their toes and engaged in the what’s-gonna-happen-next flow of the story.

For Example:

Ever After is a delightful movie largely because it uses surprises to good effect throughout the story. When Leonardo da Vinci “trips over” Danielle while trying to walk on water (which leads to a second meeting between Danielle and Henry) and when Danielle takes advantage of the gypsies’ promise that she can leave with “whatever you can carry” by choosing to carry Henry instead of her stolen dress—these are both unexpected moments that elevate their respective scenes via ingenuity and humor.

Danielle Carries Henry Away from the Gypsies in Ever After

Plot Reveal #8: Casual Clues

This one isn’t a reveal so much as the “shadow” of a reveal. Not every bit of information in your story needs to be a gullywhumping, life-changing plot twist. To achieve realism, these big plot twists need to be built up to in a series of smaller, more casual clues. Basically, these clues are foreshadowing at its gentlest. They inform readers of your characters’ mindsets, feelings, and reactions, as well as building the subtext characters may not yet be able to articulate.

For Example:

Early on, Danielle insists she dislikes the arrogant, careless Prince Henry. When she tells her friend and servant Paulette, “Honestly, I think he and Marguerite deserve each other,” this isn’t so much a revelation of new information as a brick in the wall that establishes her current mindset and foreshadows, via misdirection, her attraction to him (which Paulette backs up with the sarcastic response, “Yes, you’ve been saying that all day”). Even though it is subtle and doesn’t turn the plot, it’s enough to build a quiet sequel scene around.

Danielle and Paulette in Ever After

Plot Reveal #9: Characterizing Moment

Stories are, above all, a discovery of characters. As such, small revelations of personality and backstory can often be interesting enough in their own right to carry a scene, even if they don’t directly alter the flow of the plot. When one character makes an observation about another character or a character does something surprising that gives others or herself a new perspective, readers will intuitively understand the importance of and be interested in the new information.

It’s crucial, however, to keep these moments from being on-the-nose tellings of character traits. Instead of simply having one character tell another, “You’re so kind,” it’s much better to come at these revelations sideways through subtext or irony.

For Example:

In one of the movie’s smartest scenes, Danielle is helping her stepmother prepare for bed. The emotionally distant and manipulative Rodmilla catches us all off guard when she lowers her shields for a moment and offers a glimpse of her own inner pain. For an instant, she and Danielle seem to connect when she tells her, “I see so much of your father in you. Sometimes I can almost see him looking out through your eyes.”

But the scene is kept from being maudlin or the on-the-nose by having Rodmilla immediately catch herself and add, cruelly, “Well, your features are so masculine. And, well, to be raised by a man—no wonder you’re built for hard labor.” It’s a heartbreaking little admission that offers new insight into both characters.

Rodmilla's Mushy Moment in Ever After

Plot Reveal #10: Purposeful Mysteries

At this point, you might be asking, “Where do you get the surprises and revelations necessary to create plot reveals in every scene?”

As you can see from many of the examples above, creating plot reveals is often as simple as taking advantage of your story’s natural twists and turns—and enhancing them through an artful organization of how you present the information. Instead of just telling readers what’s happening, you put a little flair on it. You make a little game of it, first by teasing readers with the knowledge that something important is about to be revealed—and then revealing each bit of information in a way that obviously matters to the story.

Write Like the Masters William CaneHowever, you can then take this one step further by purposefully creating mysteries in your story. In Write Like the Masters, William Cane suggests:

To provide mystery in your mainstream novel, you might choose some aspect of the story that can be concealed from the reader….

Naturally, these mysteries must matter to the plot. But you might be surprised by how many mysteries you already have right under your nose that you’re not taking advantage of. Go through each chapter of your story and make a list of each new bit of information. When is the last possible moment at which you can reveal this info? Can you tease readers with hints beforehand, to make them eager to find out?

Archibald C. Coolidge, Jr., in Charles Dickens as Serial Novelist, talks about how Dickens…

…solved the problem of constant need for advance in plot by creating a mystery… which had alternating sublines.

Consider the mystery of Esther Summerson’s mother and Lady Dedlock’s deadly secret in Bleak House, or the secret identity of Pip’s benefactor in Great Expectations, who he mistakenly believes to be Miss Havisham, but who turns out, in fact, to be the criminal Magwitch—which, upon its revelation, prompts the further mysterious question, “What did Miss Havisham want with Pip all this time?”

Another great use of this type of plot reveal is uncovering the true identity of your story’s False Allies and False Enemies (which we talked about a couple weeks ago).

For Example:

Ever After doesn’t go out of its way to create mystery. The only obvious one is that of Comtesse Nicole Deloncre’s true identity. Viewers know from the beginning Danielle is not the noblewoman she pretends to be around Henry, but everyone else in the story is scrambling to figure out the identity of this mysterious newcomer who has bewitched the prince. It leads up to one of the biggest reveals in the story at the Third Plot Point, when a devastated Henry learns the truth from Rodmilla (in a #4 type plot reveal: Other Characters Discover Previous Plot Reveal).

Danielle and Henry at the Ball Ever After

Plot reveals can be the secret ingredient that perks your story up from a nice little tale to a complex and skillful articulation that thrills and delights readers on every page. Examine every scene in your story to discover the moments that turn the plot, then play these up to get the most from your readers’ responses. This is the kind of stuff they love to see happening!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What plot reveals are you counting on to grip readers in your story? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. This is something I tend to do about once per book. Just when the good guys think they are getting on top of the situation and they know what is going on, along comes the reveal. The situation is not in fact what anyone thought, it’s far, far worse.

    (“The Drive” is the very secret faster than light technology. Jane is down on the ground, alone, trying to prevent Arthur starting a war.)

    ‘Jane was right when she asked what Arthur Kelso was really up to. This has nothing to do with planetary wars, he’s after the drive, and he doesn’t care how many people he has to kill to get it.’
    ‘Sorry?’
    ‘This performance, the weather control, the planetbuster, the solar flares, the whole bloody circus, has just one purpose. It’s been set up by Arthur Kelso to get hold of the orthodynamic drive—and we’ve just given him Jane. God only knows what he’ll do to her to get what she knows. I hope you still know where she is, because I’m going to order a crash exfiltration as soon as Norris has got the ships together.’
    ‘No,’ said Keefe, ‘we don’t. Sensors lost her about an hour ago.’

    The things really fall apart, requiring Jane to pull off her most spectacular stunt so far.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Although one major plot twist per book is usually plenty, plot reveals of the sort I’m talking about here are something you preferably want to see in every scene.

  2. Ms. Albina says:

    In this movie I liked where the prince forgave Danielle and married her and one of the step sisters got to give in the palace.

    K.M. Have you ever describe a palace before and in the landscape or the grounds of the palace?

    I am doing that in both of my stories I am working on.

    • Ms. Albina says:

      The evil sea deity may make his appearance in pearl-the story. Her mom Jewel know she who he is. So Jewel wants to live in peace and harmony for the rest of her life and her family.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, there are castles and palaces in both Behold the Dawn and Dreamlander.

      • Ms. Albina says:

        iIn mine is a palace under the sea and on land. The sea palace has about 20 room so and the land one has about 30 room so There is details in that too.

        • Ms. Albina says:

          K.M., Do you write or put in the character favorite color in the story?

          Mine is dark purple and dark pink the shades of color.

          • Only if it influences the plot.

          • Ms. Albina says:

            Okay,

            K.M., When do you rewrite or revise your story and character descriptions of need be?

            Or do you do it has you go?

            I am on Pearlyn’s story in a scene where Alina and Arella talk about Ruben, the evil sea deity and finding out who Raphael’s descendant is because the bird that he gave Ruben’s parents had the yellow death.

            So Ruben is on a path of revenge until Leilani, who becomes immortal will fight him with powers and fighting skills she knows then Ruben will be tried for his crimes and also he will become mortal and be banished to somewhere else.

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            I like to revise as I go, after each day’s writing session to keep the first draft as tight as possible.

          • Ms. Albina says:

            Okay, is there a check list for revisions and I plan on using most of the interview questions for my character s To. Do you put maps in all of your fantasy books?

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            I don’t have a checklist for revisions myself, but there are many great posts on that, if you google it.

            I’ve put maps in all my books, but it’s certainly a personal choice. You don’t have to.

          • Ms. Albina says:

            k.m. in my novella the palace is about twenty miles from the beach. Do you you put the distance of where thing are ? For the scene for the reader I mean who reads it.

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            I wouldn’t go out of my way to insert distance details that clog the story, but it’s always nice to give readers at least a sense of the “space” in a story.

          • Ms. Albina says:

            I like fantasy maps. Okay I will search for the check list. Thank you. I am writing two novellas and Lotus story who is Jewel great granddaughter.

  3. M.L. Bull says:

    I didn’t know all the terminology of plot reveals, but apparently I have quite a bit of them within my novel ‘Wisdom’. For example, one of my characters, Robyn, finds an unknown old photograph of a woman and child in the attic while spring-cleaning with two of her daughters. She assumed that the photo is a picture of relatives of her husband Ben who has lots of cousins, but not even he knows who the lady and little girl are in the picture.

    This startles Robyn and a mystery lingers. Eventually, though the photo is revealed to be a picture of Robyn’s half-sister Irene that she never knew she had and Irene’s mother Hannah, and Robyn learns her deceased father who died from lung cancer and portrayed a good reputation actually had an extra-martial relationship with a younger woman. (I know it’s pretty shocking, especially for a woman in her sixties!)😨

    Another plot reveal is based on my Jessica’s past of being abused by her uncle, which no one in the Savage family knows about except Robyn and Ben. Demetrius, Jessica’s childhood friend gets devastated to discover his parents have kept it secret from him since he was a kid, but thanks to Madison’s jealousy over Demetrius and big mouth practically whole church congregation finds out about the dark family secret, embarrassing Jessica and causing her to be ashamed to show her face at the church again. 😢 (It all gets resolved though, thanks to Demetrius.) 😉

  4. Tony Findora says:

    Great info! I’ll have to take a look at the article you mention about false allies/enemies. I have a couple in my story and it may give me some insight! Thanks again! I’m definitely going to keep these in mind!

  5. Some very practical advice there: one plot reveal per scene-no more, no less. (Goes back over every scene in his book). Yet another thing to add to the checklist. I would hope it’s something I do naturally, but I can’t be too sure…

    And yes, as I’ve been learning, misdirection and the unexpected are crucial not only in plot reveals and humor, but creativity itself!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, another thing I love about this technique is that it’s very easy to double-check consciously via a quick checklist.

  6. Andrewiswriting says:

    I’m a big fan of casual clues. I like to sprinkle them here and there, and then later, when the reveal happens, readers can go back and check out how they really should have known all along, if only they’d paid more attention.

    And then, in the future, they pay more attention.

    I love that.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Boosh! I love it when stories are so rich in this sort of foreshadowing that, as a reader, you don’t pick them all up until the third or fourth reading.

  7. Why do we read, if not for those enticing plot points?

    Ever After is a good example, though each category you listed reminded me of Shakespeare. Now that was an author who could milk his plot points for all they were worth, with characters discovering other characters’ discovery of other characters’ realizing what the plot points were.

    Great post.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Ever After is a great movie, but really I chose it as a completely random example. I happened to be watching it, so I started a list of all the reveals as they occurred. Any good story should produce a similar list.

  8. Hi! I really enjoyed reading this article (and by the way, Ever After is such a good example).
    I’ve been a bit concerned about whether the plot reveals in my work-in-progress are appropriate. (It’s written in first-person, which I find tricky).
    My protagonist is a 14-year-old girl who has been raised by her single mother. The father left the picture when she was little. She had always done her best to please her mother – doing homework, saving her money, etc. But she started feeling restless. Her life, her identity seemed limited to grades. Then she became friends with some questionable kids from school. She never did anything really *wrong*, but she made sure her mother never met her friends, fearing punishment. One day, she was with her friends and on the verge of doing something stupid with them, when she found out that her mother had been drinking and gambling behind her back. Then she overheard something nasty her friends were saying about her. She ran down the road, hid behind a wall, and vowed to leave town. But she ended up meeting an unlikely person (who will be an impact character, I hope), who eventually persuaded her to at least have a meal in his house and allow him to take her where she wanted to go. And the plot progresses from there.
    Now… the story starts when the protagonist hides behind the wall. However, her thoughts reveal the nuts and bolts of what happened to her… but not the actual events. You know that she thinks her mother has done the wrong thing, but you don’t know what. You know that her friends had somehow shown their true colours, but you don’t know the full extent of what they are actually like.
    Somewhere down the track, I plan for her to tell someone what happened and it will be done as a flashback… but I get concerned that it’s not realistic to delay showing it. And I’m also concerned that my plot is too clichéd, although I do think I have written some good “moments” which I hope are original.
    Anyway, I’d really appreciate some advice. I’m pretty sure I’ve read some of your posts about flashbacks as well, but it’s difficult to judge for myself whether I’m breaking little writing rules or major ones. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Two thoughts about the flashback:

      1. The only reason to include it is if it provides useful information that will advance the plot in the moment when it is introduced. Basically, when the character remembers it and reveals it to readers in that moment, her memory of it needs to be a motivation that moves her decisions forward in that scene. If it does not–if it exists only to tell readers what happened–then the info isn’t important enough to use as a plot reveal. You’ll either want to go ahead and tell it upfront, or you may be able to get away without ever spelling it out, but simply letting readers deduce the obvious from the clues.

      2. If you do determine that the info in the flashback is strong enough to move the plot, then you’ll want to wait for the final revelation until the last possible moment in the story–the moment when it *will* definitely move the plot forward. Readers will understand from the clues you’re planting that you’re leading up something good. They won’t find it unrealistic; they’ll look forward to it and it will keep them reading.

      • Thank you – I really appreciate your response. 🙂
        I have a *much* clearer idea of how to approach this now.

        • Olivia – sometimes I get lost trying to follow people’s descriptions of their stories, but yours was very easy fr me to visualize. I think the info you outlined would work well at the beginning, and shared with another character later as the story permits.

          I have this exchange in a scene in my current chapter. The main point is to give some backstory, through a type of flashback, on the younger sister to explain some of the stuff that’s happened so far and also foreshadow. It’s mostly dialogue. I’ll likely add some beats in editing.

          ===

          When the waitress left I asked, “You still upset about Sunday?”

          “My mom had no d***…” Her hand came to her chin as she closed her eyes and looked to be holding back tears. “No right telling anybody about that.”

          “Can I ask what happened?”

          “No.”

          “I mean – were you hurt or anything?”

          “It was just very personal, something that I am not proud of, and it doesn’t need shared. Understand?”

          “Okay, that’s cool – but I can see how that’s something that sisters might talk about, like if your mom wanted advice. Couldn’t you see you and Donna, twenty years from now, talking about your own kids?”

          “Not really.”

          “Huh?”

          “If you haven’t noticed, we don’t get along too well with her.”

          “Yeah, but it’s not like that’ll last forever. Right?”

          “That girl needs an attitude adjustment.”

          “Isn’t that a little harsh? I know she went off on us that once – but on the other hand Dave has been really mean to her sometimes. What’s the deal?”

          “As you know, the three of us all have different dads. For most of our lives, it was her dad Tom who was living with us while mine and Dave’s were God knows where.”

          “Yeah?”

          “So she could always run to Daddy while the rest of us got in trouble. We’re getting our a** beat while she’s in the corner smiling. Then Tom died, Mom got married again, and Princess Donna got knocked off her throne. She’s not taking well to being treated just like me and Dave.”

          “Paybacks are a b****.”

          “Not that I want to hurt her, but yep.”

          “The things I miss being an only child.”

          • Thanks, Joe. I know what you mean about finding story descriptions difficult to follow – I spent a fair bit of time trying to make sure it didn’t sound like gibberish. Lol!
            I think I’ll avoid a full-length flashback and just continue to give clues (and little flashbacks). But there will be a point – in a heated conversation with another character who doesn’t know much of what happened – where the protagonist will reveal what her mother did. It will be new information for the character *and* the readers.
            Interesting excerpt. (Personally, I’m not a fan of books with swearing in them). But that’s a really good flashback through dialogue. I can see it would really come to life once you add some well-placed beats.

          • I had one earlier similarly styled flashback that I had quoted here a little while back, and Katie was kind enough to describe as “riveting.” I had dropped a couple cryptic references in over scattered chapters, such as where he was haunted by an image of a bloody face. Later he breaks down and tells her about how his cousin had been raped and murdered three years earlier. After another couple chapters he visited his cousin’s grave, and noticed that even after three years there still wasn’t a tombstone, just a little metal funeral home marker.

  9. A lot of stuff here I’ll have to go back through. My initial impression is that you’re categorizing all the different types of reveals that aren’t substantively different from what I’m doing (from previous training) in insisting that each scene have a role. It needs to reveal info or show something new about a character or have an event that otherwise drives the plot forward.

  10. Hannah Killian says:

    Hmm. . .maybe I shouldn’t have revealed the hero’s father was a rebel so early. . .back to the drawing board, I guess?

  11. I love Ever After! 🙂

    “It…comes and goes.”
    “Nothing’s final until you’re dead, and even then, I’m sure God negotiates.”

  12. My book right now has so many questions I’m trying to search them myself!
    Why is the village guard a swindler?
    Why is everyone getting sick?
    Why did Noloc’s dad die?
    Why is everyone who died in the plague coming back from the dead?!
    Why the heck does Noloc have glowing tattoos radiating off his body?!

  13. Max Woldhek says:

    Hmm. Maybe (the better class of) comic books would be a good place to look for plot reveal inspirations? Almost uniformly, their last pages tend to feature Shocking Revelations.

    • I have to admit to having read very few comic books (although, of course, I enjoy the movies), so I can’t comment for sure. But if it’s a good story and you enjoy it, definitely pay attention to whatever it is that’s making it work.

  14. Kate Johnston says:

    Thank you for the helpful reminder. A long time ago, I learned about plot reveals (or maybe they were called something else). It was a good lesson that stuck with me . . . I am pretty sure I have one in each scene. But it’s always good to double check, so I’ll put that on my revision to-do list!

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