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Romance Writers: Do the Twist! Part 2

First Published in Writing on Gabriela Pereira's

MAR 02, 2021 by Tammy Lough

[Hello Readers!

If you missed the first article of this three-part series, check it out right here. Parts I and II of this article deals with ideas for writing plot twists. Part III will take you through the mechanics, the nuts and bolts of making it happen.]

Let’s do the Romance Twist:

Seduction for Hire 

Let’s say you have a newlywed character in her late thirties married to an oil tycoon in his nineties (snicker). On their first luxurious dinner date, he shares the details of his recent quadruple bypass. His third. On their fifth weekend together, they exchanged vows at a drive-thru Las Vegas wedding chapel. A month later, she notices his cheeks are a bit too rosy for her liking and since it doesn’t appear that he plans to take a dirt nap anytime soon; she hurries things up a tad and seeks a hoodlum for the job.

She succeeds and promises to take her newfound flame, a 20-something ex-con, on a ride from rags to riches if he will do this one itty-bitty favor involving a Colt King Cobra .357 Magnum.

The romance twist: Her new bar-fly boyfriend calls his precinct boss, Captain Joe Romano, the second she walks away. 

I Faked You Out

You invest precious time reading an entire novel and then, oh no, tell me it AIN’T SO!!! The entire story was a character’s dream, or the musings of a post-operative brain transplant recipient, or a character’s mind-movie during a drug-induced coma. Guess what? I’m not laughing. It’s the romance twist at the end of the story that tells you—you have been played. AARGH!


Foreshadowing deserves a standing ovation. When you add a twist to your story, foreshadowing is a must-do. Here’s why. Remember the movie, The Sixth Sense? When the movie ended, I gave myself a V-8 clunk to the forehead and wondered how I didn’t pick up on the hints. And there were plenty of them. At one point, Haley Joel Osment clearly states, “’I SEE dead people.” Did I momentarily forget I speak English?

Subtle is the key word. Give your reader subtle clues and when they don’t see the twist coming, they will wonder how they missed it. They will go back to re-read a previous section and then the twist will make perfect sense. They, too, will wonder how they let the clues go over their head. Have fun with foreshadowing and remember: Use subtle clues to hold your readers’ attention and keep them guessing until the end.

A Plot Twist Wrapped in a Plot Twist

You are writing a romantic suspense and your reader’s heart races while at last the sadistic criminal is captured, handcuffed, and masked like Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. 

The cat-and-mouse roller coaster ride of terror scene ends with who your reader thinks is the apprehended perp. Then, they are treated to an even bigger twist. The next scene shows the real, honest-to-goodness sadistic criminal terrorizing his present victim in a ramshackle room in his basement. Who is this victim? The heroine of your amazing story. Ka-ching!

You gave plenty of subtle clues and they never saw it coming. Shiver me timbers!

Watch for the continuation of Romance Writers: Do the Twist Part III.

Until then… Writers Write!

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