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In the story I'm writing, the protagonist writes a representational story about himself and about the fulfillment of his wish impossible in his reality. Such wish is the sub-protagonist's main goal, and it's set still at the beginning, and the rest of the story is just the sub-protagonist's journey to accomplish it. And that's it, no gotchas.

However, I'm not sure if it'll be a good idea to leave it so predictable and unsurprising. I mean, of course that achieving such goal have some conditions he has to endure, but in the end, his goal is still accomplished, no matter what, and he knows such conditions since the beginning and goes into the journey with that in mind.

From what I know from the other works I use as reference, when there's a solid goal since the beginning, taking the whole story to be achieved, there's always a plot twist (usually several) affecting such goal, and in the end, the goal is achieved, but in a way never known before in the story, and a lot changes after those twists. But in my case, I can't do much, as the sub-story is the protagonist's wish fulfillment, and it would make no sense for him to make the sub-protagonist fail in his journey, and the reader would read all the story just to find out that the sub-protagonist fails.

So my question is: is it always necessary for a story to have plot twists to be considered a good story? Or a story without them has to be executed with great mastery to not get bad impressions?

  • From your question I would have to ask myself whether all the stories out there that do not have a plot twist are a good story. – user6035379 Jan 25 '17 at 13:32
  • Possible duplicate of How to determine whether or not a plot twist is needed? – Mark Baker Jan 25 '17 at 19:36
  • @MarkBaker Hmm, not quite. The linked question is about if a specific plot twist is needed, while mine is about if plot twists, in general, are necessary for a good story. – Yuuza Jan 25 '17 at 19:41
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    @BrunoLopes. It amounts to the same thing. If a plot twist is not needed, then your question is answered: you don't need a plot twist to make a good story. (And you don't, for reasons which are fully explained in the answers t that question.) – Mark Baker Jan 25 '17 at 19:59
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    The problem is not predictable plots. Stories have a particular shape and we expect them to have that shape. The problem is predictable characters, settings, etc. It is the feeling that we are encountering cardboard characters and scenes. No one wants a unpredictable ending to a love story. We all want the guy and the girl to end with a kiss against the sunset. We will be bitterly disappointed if we don't get exactly that ending. But we want an interesting girl and and interesting guy. The function of plot twists is to reveal new aspects of character, not to violate the shape of the story. – Mark Baker Jan 25 '17 at 23:25
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Nothing is 'always necessary' in writing.

It's about what you want to write, and - if it's important to you - what people want to read. And people are strange and various, so you will probably find someone who will enjoy reading what you've written, whatever it is.

Also, there will probably be a good deal of people who will like it for the fact that it doesn't follow conventions, that they may be tired of.

However, having said that, most stories have twists for a reason - and that's because the majority of people will find them more interesting and satisfying.

I don't think it's a problem if the goal is achieved, though the character finding out that what they wanted all along isn't actually what's going to make them happy is often key to a fulfilling story.

As you say, it's the journey and the challenges on the way that make the story.

In fact, there are many stories where the original story goal is achieved. The only problem is if the protagonist achieves everything they set out to do without any conflict or obstacles appearing at all. That might feel a bit odd.

Again, going back to your question, I think you can do anything if you do it with enough mastery, so not having plot twists is certainly possible in a good story. Just more difficult to pull off.

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Let me offer an analogy - are track loops necessary for a good amusement thrill ride? Generally speaking, they are not necessary, but they are making the ride more... thrilling. On the other hand, a good thrill ride would likely have loops, but it's not the number and size of them that makes the ride good.

So, put twists in your story, but don't add twists just for the sake of it.

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I'd say no. You don't need plot twists.

But you might get them anyway. Let me explain.

Your characters should show some kind of change. At least your protagonist. Or, if he does not change, he should change his world somehow.

And those characters that change should have goals.

So, should your antagonist, although it's usually not a good idea to have an antagonist that changes -- it may reduce the protagonists win/loss if the antagonist suddenly comes over to his side.

The characters' goals should be hard to reach because they are being thwarted by the antagonist.

This is often because the antagonist has the same goal as the protagonist: find the treasure, win the competition, etc.

You can build suspense by making the reader ask about your protagonist: how on earth is he going to make it out of this?

The protagonist's goal needs to be hard to reach, but not impossible. And it needs to be valuable to the protagonist, and the reader needs to understand why.

As a writer, you need to have an evil streak when it comes to your characters and how hard you make it for them to reach their goals.

Readers love to fear for their characters lives or success.

And, once you've piled on with hard obstacles and powerful foes the fact that the character does manage to reach his goal might just come as a huge twist in the end anyway.

Although, beware of "Deus ex Machina"-effects. The problems and obstacles should be hard to overcome, but not so impossible you need to bring in "the gods" to save your protagonist.

As I understand it your story has a narrator. Even he has to be just as good a storyteller as you are, and he cannot give away the end too soon, even if he knows it.

You may also be able to pull a "Braveheart" on the reader, not giving away who the narrator is until the very end...

The important part isn't, however, if you have twists or not. The important part is that you have engaged readers, and you get that by making them feel -- fear, suspense, joy, dread, angst...

Goals and obstacles are one great way to take a seemingly straight-from-A-to-B-story and make it into a nail biter.

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