Plot Twist Ideas: The First Cut Is The Deepest

Posted at 05:34am on 29th June 2010

So far, in my analysis of an age-old story, I’ve covered the creative writing techniques and plot ideas as follows:

THE STRUCTURE OF A NOVEL

  1. A novel is the unfolding of a fictional prose through the thoughts, words and deeds of its characters. An understanding of characterisation is, therefore, essential.
  2. The structure of a novel depends upon cause and effect (or consequences). The causes may be due to character flaws, and the consequences the result of bad decisions and faulty actions. Creative Writing Plot Ideas: Dealing With Manipulative People
  3. The emphasis here is on Show and Tell. In the story I used for analysis, the reader is told next to nothing about one character, but her personality is shown by her reaction to the actions of the protagonist.
  4. Using this method, the negative personality traits of one character may be set against the positive personality traits of another, to good effect.
  5. Power is shown to be the basis of the plot ideas in this story. Developing Plot Ideas To Show Characterisation
  6. Building on the creative writing techniques above, I’ve shown how the negative personality traits of one character may be further corrupted by an appeal to their vanity and greed. Develop Plot Ideas: A Combination Of Negative Personality Traits
  7. I’ve used various types of dialogue to demonstrate how all these components work together in the structure of a novel to flesh out character and fulfil the plot ideas. Creative Writing Techniques: Show & Tell To Develop Plot Ideas & Character
  8. In this final part, the main character will face his worst crisis ever. And then in a twist of plot, the story will be brought to its conclusion.

THE STORY SO FAR

The idea of taking a well-known story and analysing it is for the aspiring author – or indeed an established author – to think in contemporary terms when it comes to developing plot ideas and creative writing techniques for their novel. I chose a Bible story for this exercise: Samson and Delilah.

THEME & STORY GOAL

The protagonist, Samson, has been ‘set aside’ by God to be a ‘saviour’ for his people by delivering them from the Philistines. The key to his strength is his hair, which is to remain uncut. The theme may thus be expressed as love and commitment: God's to Samson; and Samson's to God.

CONFLICT, CAUSE & CONSEQUENCE

Samson’s character, however, leaves much to be desired. He’s a womaniser, provocative, and he marries the daughter of his enemy: a Philistine! With each new goal thwarted by his actions and consequences, Samson looks less and less likely to achieve his overall goal.

Having made a mess of his marriage before it was even consummated, and killed a few Philistines in the meantime, the future doesn’t look rosy for our hero. His character flaws are enough to make one seriously doubt the wisdom of God. What in heaven and earth was he doing to choose a man like this to fulfil his purposes?

Along comes Delilah, and Samson falls hook, line and sinker in love with her. However, as their relationship develops, it becomes clear that the Philistine rulers have their eye on her. Appealing to her vanity and greed, they offer her unimaginable fortune if she can get Samson to reveal the secret of his power. They don’t want to kill him. They want to humiliate him – and, thereby, his God!

A DRAMA TRIANGLE

Using every feminine wile, Delilah tries everything to get Samson to divulge all. He plays along, enjoying the game, and stringing her along with one untruth after another. Eventually, however, he succumbs to her nagging, her whining, her tears and her tantrums, and tells her that if his hair is cut off he will lose all his power.

True to character, Delilah betrays him to the Philistine rulers, who shave his head and deliver him to their compatriots, chained, beaten and bowed, to be a spectacle, and to be poked, jeered at, and dishonoured.

DENOUEMENT

This crisis point, the lowest point of all conflicts throughout the plot, is a vital part of the structure of a novel. Your readers should believe that there is no way out for the protagonist. As the author, you owe it to them to wring every last drop of feeling from this crisis; to put your main character through the utmost anguish, and your readers through an emotional mangle.

Then, without further ado, you bring your book swiftly to its conclusion. For Samson, whose hair had grown again during his time in captivity, this was achieved by a return of his power, and his demolition of the temple. Thus many thousands of Philistines were killed; Samson became the saviour and deliverer of his people; and God’s main story goal was achieved.

THEME FULFILLED

The theme of your story will dictate its ending. Here, it speaks of the unconditional, enduring nature of God’s love. I started by referring to a song so I’ll finish with one. The first cut is the deepest, by Cat Stevens, speaks of the betrayal of a first love, and the difficulty of learning to love again. Often that first betrayal sets the scene for everything that’s to come. But God IS love; he will never betray his own! And despite Samson’s flaws and lack of commitment, he is ultimately forgiven and fulfils his purpose in life.

QUESTIONS: Leave your answers below, in the comments box.

  • Could God be called the protagonist in this story, rather than Samson?
  • Is it possible to have a main character who is only alluded to, and never appears on page?
  • Can you think of any examples of this?
Related articles:

Creative Writing Techniques

The Drama Triangle & The Games People Play

Personality Test

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