Posted by: nancycurteman | December 22, 2015

Simple Ways to Create Plot Twists in Mystery Stories

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A plot twist in a mystery is simply an unexpected occurrence. When writing your story ask yourself what you might write that your reader would not expect.

Then give your reader

  • more than one suspect in a murder case before revealing the true culprit.
  • red herrings and dead ends.
  • important clues buried in emotion or action scenes.
  • a hero who uses a special skill to extricate himself from a terrible situation. A skill mentioned in passing earlier in the story.
  • a villain who has some traits that enable him to turn heroic.
  • trusted characters who lie.
  • a main character who thinks he’s won the battle but discovers later in the story that he hasn’t or that the win has endangered someone he cares about. Now he must continue the good fight.
  • a villain who wins victory after victory until the hero is almost destroyed. Note I said almost.
  • a plot that works towards a clear and easy outcome then throw up barriers that block the hero’s path to success.

Unexpected occurrences are the simplest way to create plot twists.

More Tips:

How to Murder Your Mystery Novel Plot
How to Create a Plot for a Novel
5 Plot Points in a Novel


  1. I enjoy reading your writing lessons as well as your novels. I attended the last “Lunch with the author” because my son was giving a talk on his book,”Images of America: Newark”. While there, I learned of the next Lunch with the Author (You!) and was elated to learn of your presentation. It’s timed just right as I thought I’d have to miss it because of a prior commitment, but it’s the day before, so I’ll be there. I’m so looking forward to it. I can’t wait to learn if there’s a new novel in the works as I’ve read all you’ve published.


    • Maureen, Thank you for you nice comment. So happy you enjoy my books. I look forward to seeing you at my author event. Be sure to come and say “Hi.”


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