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Monday, 24 April 2017

#AtoZChallenge - 4-24-2017 - Letter T

T for Twist in the Tail

Short stories make enjoyable reading. Those with a surprise ending are more delightful. Sometimes, the ending sneaks up on the reader and sometimes it springs out at the reader in a sudden move.

H.H. Munro, who wrote under the pen name of Saki, was adept at satire. However, some of his stories were also great examples of the twist in the tail. “The Open Window” is one such. All along, the story builds up in one direction, and suddenly with an adroit sleight of hand, the author makes it double back on itself, as it were.

For a long time, the surprise ending also went by the name of “the O’Henry Twist”. This was certainly apt, because the short stories of O’Henry were bound to have an ending absolutely different from the obvious one. My favourite stories are The Gift of the Magi and The Last Leaf. Both are touching and moving. The fine skein of wry humour running through these tales is an added treat. The unexpected turn of events is what makes the story stay with you even years after you read it.

In modern times, Jeffrey Archer is the master craftsman who deftly weaves a tale with a practised hand. So much so, that one collection of short stories is actually called A Twist in the Tale! So the reader knows what is coming, but is still surprised. What makes Archer an ace at his craft is his masterly handling of full-length novels in the same vein. The older novels are replete with the famous twist. Kane and Abel is a case in point. First Among Equals is exemplary because the twist comes literally in the very last sentence.

Any story is an interaction between the writer and the reader. In stories with a twist, it becomes something like the former leading on the latter, in a way. I personally indulge in this exercise because I want to engage with the reader not only as a storyteller, but on another level also. If I can make the reader turn back the pages to check for clues and hints about the coming twist at the end----my job is done! That is why this is my favourite writing technique.


  1. Absolutely engaging as usual. I owe it to you completely for this A-Z journey <3

    1. I simply jogged your elbow a bit---you would have done it anyway!

  2. Nice! I read those two stories when I was growing up (they were in my lit book, I think?) but I hadn't remembered the "Last Leaf" one for quite a while. Thanks for bringing it to my memory. :)

    Visiting from the A to Z Challenge. See my “U” post here:

  3. I absolutely love stories with twists in the end (not the kind that is shown on indian tv - there the twists come but the serials never end :p).

    I have attempted to write stories with twists - often illogical. I have labelled them as weird stories. Do come over and read them when the challenge gets over. Would love your feedback :)


    1. Am certainly going to visit your blog!