How To Write Twisty Tales

Posted by Anthony North on January 17, 2011

No form of writing appeals to me more than short tales with a twist. I love to read them, and I love to write them. Poe was perhaps the first to define them in themselves, and writers such as Roald Dahl raised them to an art form.
Essential to such tales is the importance of a sense of humour. Indeed, I don’t think you can work out the important slants on life that make the twist without one. If, after you’ve written one, you don’t go ‘he he’ to yourself, then it maybe fails.
Which brings me to the second point. That laugh will be pure sadism. And I suspect there must be a touch of this in the mind-set of the twisty tale writer.
Another essential ingredient of the twisty tale is that you must give hints of the twist somewhere in the storyline. Hence, when re-read, it becomes obvious. This is not always achievable, but the best tales have this ingredient.
This makes you, of course, a conman. Which is what the twisty tale is all about – fooling the person into a wrong assumption, and then hitting them with the one you want. And to be successful in this is to give a buzz as good as any conman in other fields.
And this is best achieved by placing, in the story, a kind of ‘comfort zone’. Make the reader think they know what’s going on, and also make them comfortable within the narrative. Achieve this, and the twist at the end becomes a twist indeed.



  1. David King said on May 1, 2011

    I enjoyed your take on this – especially the conman bit.

  2. Anthony North said on May 1, 2011

    Hi David, thanks for that. Much appreciated.

  3. Shail said on October 24, 2011

    I am enjoying exploring your writings/tips here. This is the first one I read. 🙂

  4. Anthony North said on October 24, 2011

    Hi Shail, many thanks. hope it’s useful.

  5. Bodhirose said on December 4, 2011

    I would love to get good at this one. I love the idea of taking people off guard and surprising them. I’ve done it once in a flash fiction format. Fun!

    Thanks, Anthony–my first visit to your writing tips.

  6. Anthony North said on December 4, 2011

    Hi Bodhirose, thanks for that. It gives such a buzz when successful.

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