Screenwriting : Are Plot Twists a necessity? by Damion Willis

Damion Willis

Are Plot Twists a necessity?

Just want to hear thoughts. I feel like they have damn near defined certain genres and that they are creeping more and more into action and even comedy movies.

Eric Christopherson

IMO you can't completely separate plot from character as they often drive each other. What one person calls a plot twist might be considered also as character development. So yeah all scripts need plot twists. Perhaps how many and what kind depends on genre.

Tony Ray

It depends on what kind of story you're trying to tell and necessity. For instance, "The Godfather" never needed a plot twist. Like if Sonny would've come back at the end to take control of the family business because he was never actually killed, that would ruin the whole damn movie. In "The Usual Suspects" however, it was fitting for that to end the way it did because we never knew who Keyser Soze was, and the mysterious identity was what helped drive the story forward.

Ultimately, a plot twist is like any other thing in a screenplay: if you don't need it, don't put it in there. Best of luck with all future endeavors.

Tasha Lewis

They are important in most genres. Streaming movie channels want Binge Worthy projects based on a class I took on "How to make Binge Worthy Movies or Films."

Stephen Floyd

They don’t matter. A good plot reversal does, but contorting the story just to give the audience whiplash (0ala Rise of Skywalker) is amateurish.

Christopher Phillips

I think most people would agree that plot twists are not for every movie. But there are some pretty famous ones that people talk about for years. Having a good twist is appealing if it fits somehow. Mysteries do tend to have them. Audiences are pretty sharp these days, it's harder to smuggle a twist to the very end now.

Eric Christopherson

Maybe there ought to be some discussion here of the definition of a plot twist. By my own definition every film with three acts has at least a few plot twists, i.e., plot points that send the story off in a new direction at the end of Act I and Act II. Often at the midpoint is another such plot point. Surprise revelations and reversals are additional plot twists.

Debbie Croysdale

I agree with above answers, regarding plot twists for a full movie. However with short films the shoot time is way less, in order for build up/tension/twist etc. In these cases want/need verses obstacle will suffice. (No time for anything else). One of my shorts was simple day scene in leafy Chelsea, a man and woman are walking towards each other and smile, audience expects a unison. Cut to Jimmy Choo high heel shoes close up on street walking past men’s suede winkle pickers and then camera stop at bikers boots. Third take both men hug and girl looks disappointed. A simple shoot and tardy little story yet judges liked it. Want and obstacle. Eyes meet. Expectation. Disappointment. In five minutes audience felt something. All of us lucky enough to make full movies know that every tiny step of the way needs to build expectation in audience. There are so many layers in both dialogue and non dialogue, seen and unseen subtext that needs building on before actual plot twist.

William Martell

Your story needs to be unpredictable.

Craig D Griffiths

I shot a 2 minute single shot short, Two camera one take. The entire film was to get to the twist.

Someone wants to clone Jesus. Until someone points out a clone is actually a twin not a photocopy of the original person.

It on Youtube “Blood Brother” Craig Griffiths will find it

Stephen Floyd

I disagree with William. Some of the best storytelling I’ve seen allows me to know exactly what will happen next but draws out the anticipation to the point where I’m practically screaming at the TV. A good story should be so engrossing it doesn’t matter if you know what happens next or not.

Christopher Phillips

Stephen Floyd I guess it all comes down to the material... We generally know that certain characters would never die on camera like James Bond or Lara Croft or Jason Bourne or the Bride. The anticipation is how are they going to get out of their predicament and get the job done. But a twist isn't just if someone is going to die, a twist can be just a shocking revelation about the story or the character. The Bourne movies have managed to have shocking revelation twists in just about every film.

Dan MaxXx

Parasite has a plot twist in the middle of the movie and destroys the Grifter-family's goals.

Stefano Pavone

I only use twists to make what might seem a predictable plot unpredictable (examples include the ending to the 1968 Spaghetti Western "The Great Silence" and the climax to the 1985 action thriller "To Live and Die in LA").

Bill Costantini

Hi Damion,

I think it's important for a story to "move", and for an audience to be engaged enough, so that they are always wondering what comes next. In that sense, "twists", "reversals", "unexpected actions", etc. are pretty critical elements in a film.

Everything doesn't always have to be a "twist", but there certainly should be some unpredictability as to how a story progresses.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Damion!

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