Writing Can Be Murder

February 2, 2007

Twist endings

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 10:30 am

An interesting discussion was started on a message board that I frequent about twist endings.

 Some people love them. Some people don’t.

I underestand why people love them when they’re earned. When you read the end and say to yourself, “How could I have missed that? That’s why A, B, and C  happened.” that’s when I like a twist ending.

 When you get to the end and it comes out of left field “aliens made him do it!” I hate twist endings.

 What do you think of twist endings? Do you have a favorite?



  1. Dorothy Dunnett–especially in her Lymond series–did FABULOUS twists. Throughout the stories, not just the ends. There was this chess scene in, I think, the fifth book–I get goosebumps thinking about it.

    I love Dorothy Dunnett. Have I mentioned that? If she were still alive, I’d do a pilgrimage to Scotland and climb up her castle walls to have whiskey and chat with her. Her Lymond is a REALLY GOOD character.

    Agatha Christie did twist endings I didn’t like, and suddenly out of nowhere missing evidence would surface to substantiate them. That’s deceiving the reader.

    Comment by Kate Perry — February 2, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  2. Now I’ve got to go find Dorothy Dunnet books. Any in particular I should start with? (which is pretty funny considering we’re talking about endings….)

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — February 2, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

  3. Start with Lymond, of course–read The Games of Kings. It starts slow but if you can get past the first part, it rocks. Dunnett’s language is dense–it’s a little like reading Shakespeare in that you have to get used to how she says things. But it’s so worth it, and the rest of the books in the series get better and better.


    The Niccolo series is easier to read, fyi. But Niccolo paled in comparison to Lymond.

    Comment by Kate Perry — February 2, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  4. As a sci-fi fan, I was floored by Arthur C. Clarke’s ability to twist his endings. His short stories are masterful – he could do it with a single line and make you realize you had no idea what the story was REALLY about until the end. I can’t do it, but I have the utmost respect and awe for those who can.

    Comment by Jennifer Colgan — February 3, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  5. Thanks for the recommendations Kate!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — February 3, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

  6. Jennifer: I LOVE stories where that happens in the last line/paragraph!

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — February 3, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

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