The Final Twist by Stuart R Brogan
As any ardent, and hard-core fan of a good horror, or thriller novel knows, it’s not only about the sensation of dread portrayed by the author, or the claustrophobic gnawing eating away at our imaginations, but the inevitable sting in the tale that catches us by surprise.
It’s the twists and turns within the story arc that make us shudder with anticipation, and make us gasp when the villain is revealed, or the truth uncovered.
And that, my friends, is the part I personally love to write. It’s the part that shatters our entire viewpoint regarding the story we are reading.
When I started writing my first novel, Jackals, I had the basics of the story arc. However, I soon found the story was writing itself and subsequently some of the biggest twists came as a surprise even to me.
As an author and purveyor of the macabre I want to fool the reader into a false sense of security. I want them to think either the story is simplistic and therefore easy to predict, or to have them question everything that is hinted, thereby making them second guess every possible ending. Some have labelled my writing style as unconventional and have even suggested there are loopholes in the stories, but are there? Or have I put them there on purpose?
Many reviewers have picked up on the fact that they didn’t see the ending of Jackals coming and I have to say that is a delight to hear because I myself didn’t intend to get to the finish line in the way I did (of course I shall not reveal it here just in case you haven’t read it) I did however know what the final outcome had to be, but in truth some of the twists on the route to the finish, just occurred to me whilst writing. It felt natural to allow things to happen the way they did.
I understand that many of the literary elite among you may disagree, and possibly even scoff at my work ethic and feel that it’s not the “proper” way to write. You may feel that you must have every conceivable plot detail carved in stone before you start on a project leaving nothing to chance for fear of the plot being discovered. But I am of the opinion that we must give the story space to breathe and evolve organically. I choose to do this because it not only helps me write in a fluid and natural way, but keeps the buzz alive when moving from chapter to chapter. I feel it gives the book a fast paced, energetic vibe, akin to a slickly edited movie.
The toxic mixture of book fuelled adrenaline and misdirection is a powerful tool if used correctly.
I really do see the story as a beating heart, each book having its own ebb and flow, its own timing and, most of all, its own energy. I know what you are thinking – this bloke is off his rocker – and maybe I am, it’s just the way I work.
As authors, we have the reader in the palm of our hand to do with as we see fit. We have the power to give them the whole truth or just the bear minimum, to dangle the carrot in the hopes that they will follow and never see what is really happening. I used this tactic to great effect in Jackals but when the reader looks back, they are able to see plenty of clues scattered among the chapters. They say hindsight is twenty twenty vision and they are correct, for there is a reason for everything I write and it’s all building up to something, all you have to do is look at the bigger picture.
Of course, it is easy to get carried away, to try and get a little TOO clever for our own good, and that’s when it can all come crashing down around our ears. Complacency, my friends, is a killer. We must never get comfortable with our own writing style, we must try and push boundaries and improve our skillset, but must never be stagnant (rehashing the same old formula) or deviate to such a degree that we lose all semblance of our voice. Either way could prove fatal. Yes, it is true that fans enjoy a specific writer’s style and pace, but I think now again it’s good to throw the reader a curve ball, to take them out of their comfort zone.
However you choose to hook a reader is purely down to you. I have my way of fishing and you have yours. There is no CORRECT way. As long as the fan enjoys it then you have completed your mission and you can move on to the next project.
And what is the final twist in this tale I hear you cry………
Well, the butler did it, of course.