Alien Spotting – 5 Signs Your Story Twist Will Annoy Readers

I am delighted by surprises. Roses, chocolate, a romantic dinner for two. My inner princess is already excited just thinking about it.

Our readers approach our books with the same love of surprise. They want to read a story that will keep them guessing right up to the very end.What they don’t want, is an alien spotting.

What do I mean by alien spotting? A twist that comes out of left field and leaves them feeling tricked as a reader. As if all of what they read so far didn’t lead anywhere that made sense.

As they followed bread crumbs and story turns, forming an idea in their mind of what is to come next they reach the twist only to discover it was all a sham. An hour or two of meaningless entertainment.

Talk about angry. They may be invested enough to finish the book, but they will think twice before picking up another one of your stories.

By all means, be unpredictable.

By no means have an alien spotting.

5 Signs Your Story Twist Will Annoy Readers:

*An unknown character swoops in at the end to be the evil villain. This is probably one of the most annoying alien spotting moments for readers. They can’t stand to be led down one path and then wham mo, there was no way they could have figured it out anyway because the character previously did not exist.

*You bring in peripheral plot that makes you revise the whole premise of the book. If you run into brilliant peripheral plot that changes your book premise, than it should be a rewrite or you must in some way that makes sense to readers connect it with what already is on the page.

*If  there are no hints at the coming twist. If a reader can go back to the beginning of the book and reread it without seeing any bread crumbs that the story could go this direction, then they are bound to feel tricked. You can always go back and sprinkle bread crumbs if you have a moment of brilliance as you are writing.

*If you kill a character that the reader loves. Once a reader spends lots of time in a character’s head it is important to make sure we don’t break their trust by manipulating their feelings. A story that touches hearts shouldn’t rip them out and slam them to the pavement.

*If you leave unresolved issues at the end of your book because of the unexpected twist. Our readers like to have the novel tied up in a bow. No lose ends that have no answers or tragic answers that get no resolution.

What is one alien spotting that annoys you when reading it in a book or seeing it in a movie?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

10 thoughts on “Alien Spotting – 5 Signs Your Story Twist Will Annoy Readers

  1. Lisa Jordan says:

    Love the graphic you chose for this post! Love the plot annoyances you mentioned too.

    For me, it’s the unexpected character who has no role in the story until the end, and when the character does something out of character just for the story’s sake.

    Also, if I don’t like a book, I don’t feel the need to finish.

  2. I have two authors I no longer read because in the first instance, she killed off a character I had invested in and in the second, he changed the entire premise of the story with his ending. Nothing made sense.

    On the other hand, a twist like in the Sixth Sense excites me!

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    I love twists, too. But I do get seriously annoyed with the ones that aren’t believable. I’m with you on that, Pat!

  4. Teresa says:

    I once read a book by a famous Christian author where the character who appeared to be the heroine died halfway through the book and the heroine switched. Yuck! I also especially hate movies that leave me dangling.

  5. Melissa Tagg says:

    I’ve always felt a little lost as to building twists into my story. It’s been hard for me. But I took a class from Steven James at Blue Ridge this year in which he talked about building “worlds of inevitability.” If you want one big twist in your book, you need to have built two believable worlds of inevitability. If you want two big twists, you need three worlds of inevitability. Etc. Finally…it make sense to me!

    Yeah, I hate it when twists feel manipulative…like all along the author planned to throw in a twist just for the sake of throwing in a twist. I don’t think shock has a lot of value unless it’s entrenched in the story in a believable and, as Steven James said, inevitable way. But a well-crafted twist…oh, I love it!

  6. Bonnie Navarro says:

    “then again, tomorrow is another day.” Sound familiar? I almost threw something at de tv when Charlott said her famous line

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