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Why we all love a good twist

What’s your favourite element of a good psychological thriller?

Sure, it has to be thrilling. And there needs to an element of mystery or suspense.

But I think many readers these days are looking for a mind-blowing plot twist that blows their socks off and that they didn’t see coming. Am I right?

One of my personal favourites was the brilliant twist at the midpoint of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I just didn’t see it coming, and I don’t think many readers did.

I suspect if that book came out now, many more of us could predict it coming, but at the time it was truly shocking.

Other twists (no spoilers here!) I’ve really enjoyed have been in The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine, Verity by Colleen Hoover and Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson.

The most recent read to leave me flip-flopping between what I thought was really happening was Don’t Let Her Stay by Nicola Sanders. It was like I was fish caught on the end of her tricky line!

But what attracts us to a really powerful plot twist we didn’t see coming?

Is it simply that we like being challenged? It can’t be that we actually enjoy having the wool pulled over our eyes, can it?

I suppose it’s a little like watching an accomplished stage magician cutting his assistant in half or making them disappear.

We know we’re being deceived, but we love it nonetheless.

According to academics and researchers far clever than me, it’s apparently to do with the fact we have “blind spots in the way we assess the world and a well-orchestrated plot twist works by exploiting these blind-spots, biases and mental shortcuts by taking advantage of gaps in our attention and the flawed inferences and limitations in our perceptions.”

Phew – that’s a bit heavy going.

I always try to throw in a few twists along the way in my books – but it’s not easy.

It’s especially hard to write twists that are convincing and that you’ve managed to successfully foreshadow so when you reread the book, it makes even more sense.

Do you love a good twist? Are they essential in psychological thrillers, do you think? And what’s your favourite plot twist? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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