More Story Twists

There’s a new Television show, Scandal. I’ve written about strong women characters and plot twits, Scandal falls neatly into what I’ve been writing about.

I will warn you, this is a spoiler post. You might want to watch it on first.

Olivia Pope and her team are lawyers who never go to court; they fix things, or rather, they fix people.

Olivia Pope is strong and tough. Yet, she is not oppressed with her job. And is well aware that there is life outside of work. In those moments, we see her softer side.

In the middle of an important case, she encourages a teammate to pursue his love life. She takes the time to speak to an old friend and employer, the President of the United States.

Olivia’s gut is never wrong, even when all her teammates disagree with her. This is not a democracy; her vote rules. She stands on the courage of her conviction. She’s not intimidated, not even by the president of the United Stated. Even though his schedule is full, she demands an interview. She never cries and won’t tolerate such weakness in her team.

Her character his well established. We know who she is and what to expect, then there is a character twist; something we did not see coming; something that changes the course of who Olivia Pope is.

Olivia is in love with the President of the United States.

There seemingly was no hint of what was coming, not when she when to the White House, not when she greeted his wife, not when she spoke to the president the first time. Nothing.

It’s not until the second meeting when all unravels and we learn they are in love. Well, she’s in love. He’s a liar and a manipulator.

Now we see Olivia’s gut can be wrong, she can cry, she is weak, but she pulls herself together so no one sees.

We were confidant in who Olivia was. She was interesting. We didn’t need more. But the character twist makes Olivia more interesting. We see a new side to her personality and a new resolve to her methods.

We may not have known what was coming, but there were hints. We just didn’t understand what they meant.

An author, or screenplay writer, can’t just write in a surprise without some sort of preparation. When a reader or viewer goes back over the story, there should be “aha” moments, “That’s what that meant.”

If those hints are not there, readers feel cheated. It’s as if the author was too lazy or just suddenly pulled a rabbit out of the hat without thought to the plot.

It’s OK to mislead and miss direct, readers love it, but only if you leave breadcrumbs behind. Readers become upset if you suddenly through something in that has nothing to do with the story and came from out of nowhere.

It’s a game between reader and author. The author is trying to stump the reader, the reader is trying figure out what’s going on before the twist is reveled. Part of the fun is when the reader goes back and sees what was miss, and was plainly said what was going on, but the hints were misunderstood because of cleaver misdirection.

Now we understand why Olivia no longer works for the President and why she won’t go back. We thought it was because she liked her independence. No, she is trying to distance herself from the relationship.

The president is accused of infidelity. Olivia is called in to fix the problem.

When she asks him if he did it, he says, he loved only one, we thought he meant his wife. But he was manipulating Olivia. Her heart must have done a flip-flop, when he said he loved only her, and she believed he was innocent of loving another woman.

We thought she defended him because of their friendship, because she knows he is a man of honor. In reality she defended him because she loved him and wanted to believe him innocent.

The president confused her “never-wrong gut feeling.” But when she learns the truth, he’s in trouble. She will now defend the woman he manipulated. Hell has no fury like that of a scorned woman. The woman being Olivia.

Through it all, we see her strength and resolve. In the beginning, she demanded to see the president. He adjusted his schedule to accommodate her. But at the end of the show, when he asks to see her, she says no.

Delight your readers, or viewers, with unexpected events, but plan your twists with well-placed hints.