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Hiatus Two

Top Five Twists

The thing about short stories is that, well, they're short. A short story needs to contain the basic building blocks of a story: the beginning, middle, and end, as well as a sense of change or an arc for a character. And it needs to do all of this in a limited word count.

One trick for how to pull off a satisfying short story that leaves great impact in few words is to have a cunning twist. I wrote a few times over the last year about the twist or moment of epiphany in a short story. It is that moment that makes the reader go oh. Oh in italics is a great emotion to have when reading a short story.

So I went through my blog and ranked the Top Five Twists in my 52 week project. Or more accurately to protect from spoilers, I'll rank The Top Five Stories With The Best Twists and try not to spoil what those twists are in the list below. If you click on to read my posts about these stories read the intros carefully to see if you should read the stories themselves first or risk being spoiled forever!

5. The Gift of the Magi- This Christmas story by author O'Henry contains one of the most famous (and subsequently parodied) twist tropes in pop culture. A story about love, and gift giving unlike the other darker stories on this list, this one's very human twist is absolutely heartwarming.

4. First Lives Club: Pretend Blood was my entry in the project by famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Following a character who gets caught up in an online chatroom for people who believe they have lived past lives this story blends mystery, thriller, and fantasy into a reality questioning short tale. Like any good thriller the pacing of this story leading up to the twist is fantastic, and what earned this story a spot on the list.

3. Sleeping by Katherine Weber is a 2003 flash fiction story. Making up one of the shortest stories on the blog doesn't take away from the impact of this one at all. This micro story manages to pull off the set up, creeping pacing, and excellent pay off of a twist that when you look back and read it again was being foreshadowed all along. A stellar example of that oh moment this story follows a young girl and her strange baby sitting experience.

2. The Lottery the 1948 story by Shirley Jackson is one of the most pop culturally significant short stories in modern literature. This horror thriller is a masterclass in creating that sense of build up before a stunning reveal. Starting with an innocent seeming premise in a friendly small town Jackson's horror creeps up and up until we are brought to that famous violent conclusion. This one is a classic that everyone should read at least once.

1 The Story of an Hour was written in 1894 by Katherine Chopin, and contains not one, but two audience shattering twists. One twist at the beginning of the story snatches the reader's attention as something so shocking they just have to keep reading. The second twist serves to tinge the plot with that all too sweet irony short stories love. And Chopin does it all in a short story that takes place in a time span of an hour. This one just had to have the top spot for delivering not once but twice in that short span of time.

None of the stories on this week's ranking are particularly long so if you haven't checked any of them out, I highly recommend it. That Oh in italics feeling is a good one.


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