If there was one element of storytelling above all others that holds a grip on my youth, it would be the plot twist. I had always found a well written twist in a story to be thrilling. Although I’ll admit that at first I didn’t know it was called that. I remember sitting on a stool in the kitchen explaining to my mom that a writer could ‘lie’ or ‘hide facts’ from the reader instead of just telling everything immediately. After that it was an element I struggled to shoe-horn into all my childhood scribblings.
I distinctly remember writing “…and then dinosaurs attacked.” and thinking I was a genius for doing so.
And it was all because of a video game. Not a classic novel, but a computer game called Might and Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven. I had never played the other games in the series, but those who had would have seen, if not downright expected the twist.
The game is the classic fantasy romp with swords, sorcery, and plenty of dragons to slay. (Some would say too many) The main goal for the first half of the game is trying to gain access to “The Oracle” in order to find a way to stop an army of demons that have been devastating the countryside.
It turns out the Oracle is a super computer hiding under the biggest medieval-era city in the country. After you boot it up, it then proceeds to tell you that the demons are actually invading aliens and you must break into an ancient military base to steal laser rifles and kick some alien butt.
Simply put, it blew my teenage mind. After that I started seeing this story telling element where ever I looked and began trying to use it in my own stories…as well as finding an excuse to put aliens in them to. One of the things I had to learn later was realizing that I couldn’t always have a twist, and in fact sometimes the twist is that there is no twist.