You’ll never guess what happens. You really won’t see it coming.
Citing a “plot twist” is a ubiquitous, annoying marketing tool that has infected how we talk about movies and books, even among friends. Yesterday, a user on Reddit aired frustration with the set-up, and struck a chord:
Saying that a book has a twist totally ruins the twist. You’re anticipating the twist for the entire book and it doesn’t take you by surprise when it comes. A book related Facebook page just posted a “30 books that have great twists” list and a few books I wanted to read were on there and now they’re kind of ruined because now I know there’s a big twist.
Books and movies that trade on big twists create a distracting sense of expectation.
Sorry in advance for the following list: Books and movies like Fight Club, Gone Girl, The Sixth Sense, A Beautiful Mind, several plot lines throughout Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Sherlock, and most things by M. Night Shyamalan all cash in on the device.
We can’t control plots but but we can change the way we talk about them, and prevent ourselves from ruining the experience for other people. When we know that something big is coming, it undermines the journey in favor of the destination—it pushes us to “figure out” a story, rather than be immersed in it. So next time someone asks you about whether you liked a book, don’t twist and shout.