Dear Easter People,
American Movie Classics has ranked the top ten greatest plot twists in film history. You may not find the top three surprising:
- The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker discovers the truth about Darth Vader. (“I am your father!”)
- Planet of the Apes. Charlton Heston’s astronaut character is not stuck on a foreign planet filled with apes, but is instead on earth in a dystopian future.
- Psycho. Norman Bates is Mother! And director Alfred Hitchcock pulled an unconventional twist when star Janet Leigh’s character was killed unexpectedly early in the classic shower scene.
We might quibble with the ranking of these films, but we all pretty much know what a plot twist is. It’s the moment when the story takes an unexpected turn, unsettling your assumptions about where the plot was heading, and resetting the course of the narrative in a completely different direction. The best plot twists are not just surprising, they are also satisfying. They recast everything in the past in a completely different light and build new energy for what lies ahead.
I found a clever website for would-be novelists that generates ideas for plot twists. Type in a few names of your characters, list their relationships to each other, and add a title to the story. Then voila! A list of possible plot twists!
So, let’s pretend I’m writing a story about the clergy team at Hyde Park. Just for kicks, I typed in our names into the website, and it kicked out these choice plot twist ideas:
- Justin was just using Magrey for company.
- It turns out they are all living in a computer game.
- Magrey has been possessed the whole time.
- Debbie is an imaginary friend.
- Vicki and Sally are both manifestations of Magrey’s subconscious.
- Sally is really a vampire.
- Vicki has secret powers resulting from being bitten by a flea.
- Justin wasn’t born but created in a lab.
- The person claiming to be Vicki is actually a clone.
- The town they live in doesn’t really exist.
Now I have tons of ideas now for my next book.
GOD LOVES A GOOD PLOT TWIST
Plot twists from movies and novels can be fun, but they are nothing compared to the great plot twists found throughout the Bible, particularly in the book of Acts. That’s the basis of our new series called “Surprise! God May Have a Plot Twist in Mind.” Each of the scripture passages zigs where you expect it to zag, with a twist in the story that transforms people forever.
- Saul was a persecutor of Christians, before a surprising, blinding light changed him into Paul, the greatest missionary the world would ever know. (May 5)
- Peter had a surprising vision that expanded his view of God’s love, to include people beyond the walls of his prejudices. (May 19)
- Paul and his traveling companions took a surprising detour, leading them to a woman named Lydia, whose life was changed by the power of the gospel. (May 26)
- Paul and Silas were stuck in prison, until a surprising inbreak of God’s power not only freed them from their chains, it also transformed the hearts of the guards who had imprisoned them. (June 2)
- On Pentecost Day, God sent a surprising gift to the world: the Holy Spirit, which birthed the church and launched a new movement of God’s kingdom on earth. (June 9)
You may think your story has been written. You may feel like your life is headed in a certain direction, and you feel like there is no way to avoid it. But God has a history of writing plot twists, and God has one in store for you. Just like in the stories we will be exploring over the next several weeks, God is ready to surprise you. To see yourself in a new way. To have a broader view of God’s love. To relate to others in a deeper, richer way. And to take your story in directions you never dreamed of.
See you Sunday!
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist