Good morning Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
Today I want to talk about Real Life Plot Twists, inspired by this video by YouTube channel BestThingWorstThing way back in September last year.
I put this video idea on my list and somehow never got around to it but I’m doing it now!
I don’t generally do spoiler warnings for movies that are really old, but what the heck. Spoiler warning for The Empire Strikes Back, The Sixth Sense, Memento and the Harry Potter series.
Like many authors, I am a big fan of the plot twist. I like including twists and turns in my stories, unexpected sequences of events that throw my main characters for a loop—as well as, hopefully, my readers.
The plot twist can revive interest in a story that’s slowing down, but if you use it like that, you’ve got bigger problems in your story that should be addressed in other ways.
The best use of the plot twist is not to shock and surprise—but to add another layer of depth and subtext to a story, to bring it to a new level higher than it was before.
In Empire Strikes Back, finding out that Vader is Luke’s father shows us a whole new side of this villain who we’ve supposed is completely evil, and raises the stakes on Luke’s ultimate victory in the third film.
In Sixth Sense, finding out Bruce Willis was dead the whole time makes us reevaluate the whole movie we’ve just seen, looking for clues that should have led us to the conclusion from the start.
That also has the benefit of making us want to watch the movie again, which probably didn’t hurt it at the box office.
In Memento, finding out that Guy Pearce set himself up to kill Joe Pantoliano at the beginning of the story—that is, the end of the movie—it’s confusing—turns him from a damaged but ultimately relatable hero into a quasi-villain who we’re not sure we should root for.
And in the Harry Potter series—
—seriously, spoiler alert. David Wright, turn away now—
finding out that Snape was working for Dumbledore the whole time, even when he killed him, makes him that much more deep and tragic of a character than the Snidely Whiplash villain we’ve thought he was the whole time.
Of course I totally saw the Snape plot twist coming, but hey, what can I say? I’m a genius. A humble genius.
But what about real life plot twists? Those things that come out of nowhere to shock and surprise us—often in pretty bad ways.
We can experience a certain amount of satisfaction watching a movie or reading a book when a plot twist occurs.
This BIG, HUGE, INSURMOUNTABLE THING has come up in the main character’s face and now we get to see the brilliant and surprising way they’re going to handle it.
It’s very satisfying to see them ultimately triumph even when such an unexpected thing has occurred.
But when this happens in real life—not so much.
HEY YOUR HOUSE CAUGHT ON FIRE!
HEY YOU LOST YOUR JOB!
HEY YOU’VE JUST DISCOVERED YOU HAVE A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION!
HOW WILL YOU EVER OVERCOME THIS TREMENDOUS OBSTACLE THAT HAS SUDDENLY BEEN THROWN IN YOUR FACE?
Yeah. Not so enjoyable.
The truth is that in life, unlike in fiction, a major plot twist like this isn’t always going to be overcome by a rapier wit and an epic sword fight. More likely, you’re going to have to overcome it with time, and a lot of hard work.
That’s just not sexy.
It’s common knowledge that writers absolutely TORTURE their favorite characters, because audiences love seeing their heroes rise above it.
However that same torture…just SUCKS when it happens to us in real life.
But maybe we can draw some small measure of comfort from the fact that, just like in stories, overcoming hardship in life makes for a more satisfying conclusion.
And while our troubles may seem unbearable now…if we can get through them, then OUR story, like so many great stories, can become an example to others.
Deep thoughts for the day, Rebels. Let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments. Thanks as always for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.