Wikipedia defines a twisted ending as an unexpected conclusion or
climax to a work of fiction, which may contain a surprising irony, or
cause the audience to review the story from a different perspective by
revealing new information about the characters or plot. A twist ending
is the conclusive form of plot twists. This literary device is also
referred to as a surprise ending.
Alfred Hitchcock was the first master of twisted endings. In only
half an hour, he could develop a plot and mislead the viewer into
jumping to the wrong conclusion. It was something akin to the game of
"Clue" where the viewer was left to draw his own conclusions, but the
clues lead in the wrong direction. This type of twisted ending is
called a "red herring".
In the movie Moby Dick, Captain Ahab spends his life searching for
the white whale that bit his leg off. The twisted ending comes when
Ahab becomes ensnared in ropes attached to the great white and the
whale drags him through the sea, drowning him.
Let's suppose a man has murdered a woman and her husband is out to
catch the killer. Let us further suppose that the husband finally
catches the murderer, and just when hubby is about to kill him, the
police arrive on the scene and take the man into custody. While the
husband wishes with all his might to see the murderer die, we can make
a twisted ending. Imagine that the murderer goes to trial and his plea
is to be put to death. But instead of executing him, the judge feels he
would suffer more by going to prison without chance of parole. The
husband is happy that the killer is miserable instead of dead. The
reader is satisfied.
The secret to a twisted ending is finding the point where you can veer off to an alternative resolution.
In the last illustration, the point to veer off was when the police
arrived and took the killer into custody. From that point on, anything
could have happened. The murderer could have tried to escape while in
the courtroom and the police could have killed him; a prison inmate
could have killed the murderer while he was serving his time; the
murderer could have served X number of years and then was paroled, only
to be hit by a car on the way to a hotel.
But the best ending of all is when you twist the ending, and then
you twist it again. For example, the murderer could have served his
prison time, been paroled, and been hit by a car, as we said. When the
reader begins to think the murderer will die at the scene of the
accident, we could change the ending so that the murderer will be
paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. As long as the
reader feels satisfied in the end, you can do all sorts of things with
Now you try it!