Dissecting Stories: Plot Twists

full-metal-alchemist-logoThis weekend my partner introduced me to the Anime series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.”

Across three days, we watched the 64 episodes with me asking extra questions on occasion to ensure I’d understood the concepts and back-story correctly.

The series is technically a sequel to an original series which I know nothing about (but intend to see at some point), but certainly works as a stand-alone narrative. What interested me most though, was how it handled plot twists.

As someone who likes to learn about crafting plot, I found the twists in this series to be really well done. They were foreshadowed in that they made sense in hindsight, but were slightly hidden from view at the time of reveal. I won’t give any examples so as not to spoil the story, but the sequence tended to be the same.

X happens, because of Y.

Wait, Y isn’t the real answer.

Me: But X was possible, so that can’t be right.

Later: Z causes X, similar to Y, but is different in A way.

It made sense, answered the confusion and yet wasn’t an obvious answer right up until the reveal. Usually, the Z/A combination brought about more conflict too, which moved the story forward.

This is something I struggle with in my own writing.

So this week, I’m de-constructing the main plot twists of the story, to learn what made it work so well – particularly the beats between the first hint and the final reveal.

Have you ever de-constructed a story to see how it works?

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