End with a twist no reader could reasonably have foreseen

(With thanks to Tim Clare)

‘So, you discovered the secret behind...’ The General paused, a strangely blank look in his eyes. ‘Behind... Behi... Behi... Behi...’ Now the whole room was flickering. I looked down at my hands and saw my fingers blurring in and out of reality. Then, with a snap, it was all gone.
As my eyes adjusted to the light, I smelled electrical burning.
‘Neural simulator offline,’ said a voice. I blinked.
‘Puh... Peter?’ I said. ‘Is that you?’
‘Not exactly,’ said Peter. ‘My real name is Doctor Hadrian. I inserted myself into your neural simulation as Peter in order to guide you.’
‘But.. why?’ I asked. He smiled and peeled an electrode off my temple.
‘Because I’m your father, Jake. I’m not dead after all – I was kept alive by aliens. And the aliens are God. And this is the year 8500 and we’re in space.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘That explains everything.’ Doctor Hadrian nodded.
‘And you’re a robot,’ he said.

19 comments:

  1. Awesome! The best thing is, little more than a few pronoun and name tweaks, this could be inserted as the twist ending to any novel ever written:

    'Ah... Ahab?' I said. 'Is that you?'

    'Not exactly,' said the Captain.

    Etc.

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  2. This would be especially frustrating in a mystery novel.

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  3. So much for the deus ex machinas in Greek tragedies.

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  4. Oh, God, I HATE it when writers do this! Good show! ;) I can think of a few examples in various media from books to movies to videogames...

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  5. Ahaha, this is wonderful. I'm writing a somewhat absurdist novel right now, reminds me of my own writing.

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  6. The thing that makes this sort of "twist" ending annoying for me is if it really comes out of nowhere - if I can look back and see that clues have been dropped along the way so that if I had been more clever I might have predicted the twist, I actually enjoy this sort of thing (though I'll take one or two twists at a time, not the insane pileup at the end of this example).

    Also, the particular twists used in this example have mostly become cliches. I like my twist endings to be more original, because isn't that the point of a twist ending?

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  7. AAAAHH! Your posts always cause some serious brain hurtage. I like it. :D
    -Rachel G. :D

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  8. So what are the primary offenses of this passage? In my view: Annoying post exposition, deus ex machina, cliches, the main villain is shares the name of a famous Roman emperor (although he wasn't Doctor Claudius--oh the possible villainies of Doctor Claudius!), and the ad hoc twists reduce the credibility of the passage as a part of a greater work.

    Good show.

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  9. I am now wiping a splutter of hot chocolate off my monitor.

    Cheers!

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  10. Interesting, though very opinionated, blog. I admire a man who will stand up and be counted. You've rather overlooked poetry. Address this, will you?

    Regards, Steve

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  11. No, I'm not Peter. I'm just a man who has tired of writing the same ol same ol day after day and has given myself an out with a big, stupid twist ending that no one will enjoy. Hear that banging sound? It's all the readers who paid for my stupid novel dumping in the trashcan.

    Good call. I hate that.

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  12. "How to compensate for the fact that you have no idea how to resolve your super awesome climax"

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  13. Oh my gosh. THIS.

    Books that end like this make me want to throw things.

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  14. This sounds a bit like the plot twist used to end the American version of the TV series "Life On Mars". No wonder it was cancelled.

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