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Plot Twist: Is It Worth The Risk?

January 18, 2012

I recently read Cinda Williams Chima’s The Gray Wolf Throne, the third book in the Seven Realms series. It is a fantastic book, full of adventure, romance, and the intrigue of a noble’s court, and it keeps the pages turning at a massive rate. Now that I am finished with this book (I actually read all 500-something pages in a single day), I am eagerly looking forward to The Crimson Crown, the fourth and final book in the series. So far the series, though a great joy to read, is incredibly predictable. Chima uses a variety of techniques including foreshadow (which in this case is more like fore-glow in the dark since there is no real subtlety) and prophecy in order to suggest the novel’s conclusion, which is one that would immensely satisfy the readers. Now here’s the question: will Chima toss a wrench into the plot and throw aside all of the hints she has been laying in order to achieve an ending of higher potential “literary merit,” or will she conclude the series as is to be expected with a greater reader appeal?

This is the dilemma regarding plot twists. The use of unpredictable events makes a story more interesting and compelling, but when it comes between the readers and higher “standards of literature,” what is the right choice? Critics often love plot twists, but the majority of readers may became frustrated or even angry if the plot twist affects the outcome they preferred. I suppose the answer to this question is really another question: who is your intended audience? If you write only for your critics, perhaps a controversial plot twist finale is right for you; on the other hand, if you write for the public or the normal fans of your genre, it might be a better option to keep them happy so they keep coming back for more. In the end, it is your decision. What do you think?

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