How to punch the reader on the long term memory guts

Well for me

  1. The end of Gurran Lagan and the twist moment in Kill La Kill when the mother pulled out our girl’s heart before declaring her the unborn baby she threw in the trash.
  2. To translate both into a story? Make it a comment that is mentioned several times in a story but make it seem like a throwaway comment that is going along until the BAM! moment. It makes me reread/replay what the heck I have been consuming and make me dread something is going on that I am not really privy to when I am aware of it before the reveal. Makes it amazing because I am reading/ watching like I am staring at the sight of a future train wreck, but I can’t put it down.
    3/4. I do… in one of the stories I am working on which is an interconnected series that is…if pulled off…very very very long lol. I want people to feel as if they are missing something (which they are in other stories lines) and if they move forward to feel off kilter, but also to be curious about what they don’t know. Also there is a paranormal mystery that I hope to have that moment in the first “case” when the group of characters are done.
  3. I think there are a lot more BAM! moments when you are not that invested but you think you know the story and then you hear the twist from a friend? I think stories are twisting what is the known and expected more and more lately, so you don’t have to be really really invested to have that shock, as long as you have a passive interest in a story it will shock you.
  4. It’s more complicated if you think about how the story pulls it off then what it is pulling off. It’s a story twist, they are all story twists but is how that makes it complicated. Its either in how you are playing, who’s POV are you watching this from, or from underestimating how the author has been passing clues from under us. So no, you are not over thinking it, a good twist is what makes that shock value the one that sticks with us.
  5. Makes confused Demisexual noises.

No…you’re not supposed to remind me of that.

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@moonfungus Hey, that was a moment where I was questioning my reality and what the heck I was seeing. I remember screaming in confusion…at like 3am…in front of my grandmother who just came in.

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1.1 sorry
1.2 to 7. Okay, got it, thanks.

@KisaAmora so putting it on simple words it has to be on plain sight but not make an obvious connection to spoil the surprise so when the reader gets to that point it clicks the “it was in front of me the whole time!” moment. Something like that?
That might be a cool way to do it, but seems to be different from the red wedding example I mentioned.


There is also the other way, you don’t have to make it an obvious throw away, it could be something like “as all the MCs were talking at the table X left saying he had to go to the bathroom.” followed by something a few chapters down like “X was talking on the phone, but put it away seeing the MCs coming towards him.” So when the BAM moment comes “All of them were captured and the bad guy turns to X, ‘Thanks for the tips X’” You are looking back in shock. You start to see there was a pattern that would have allowed X to do this, but not something that obvious. You the Author, can keep the rest of the hints to your chest (to publish in a tell all ebook guide later lol) but as long as there is an avenue for that character to do something even of the real work is not displayed. It will add to the shock. That is what I believe… I am sure that there is a more elegant way to do it, but this is a way I can perceive it. I hope it helps!


There is just one scene (ending) that REALLY shocked me, that still “torment” me to this day.
In the end it’s all about betrayed expactations.

I’m talking about the movie “A Bridge for Therabitia”
I started watching it casually one evening. It’s about a shy boy, Jess, that lives in a little town. He’s bullied and has a bad relationship with his family, especially his father and he has a very vivid imagination. One day a new family arrive in the neighborhood. They have a girl of his age, Leslie, and they quickly become best friends. They’re both very creative and love to explore the woods, so they start playing and pretend of having discovered a kingdom, therabitia, where they’re the queen and king.
Everything seems good, by now you’re at 2/3 of the movie, you know you are watching a movie for kids, so you dont expect more conflict that a discussion among them, or maybe the girl moving away again. Well, one day Jess goes to visit a museum with his teacher, he sort of likes her so decide to not invite Leslie. When he comes back home, his parents hug him. You have to know, to go to Therabitia Jess and Leslie used a rope to cross the river. When Leslie that morning tried to go there, the rope broke. She fell in to the river and she died. That’s it. An absurdly normal death in the real world, and still in this disney movie it’s… “Wrong”. The rest of the movie (that looked just like a normal movie for children by disney,and that’s how it was advertised) is about him grieving his loss and building a bridge for therabitia.
Why was i shocked by this? Well, be sure that if the same thing happened in another tv show like The Walking Dead, or in an anime like Attack on Titan, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Probably I would have brushed it off thinking “what a stupid way to kill a character”. But THIS was a disney movie. The same reason I loved the first Frozen (subverted expectations) is why I was so shocked by this movie (Betrayed expactations).

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Nice ideas, I’ll look out for different ways to implement them if I ever need to.

@MaryQueen Nice, I guess it is something similar to what happened to me in the spider-man movie, I was so used to see that the hero always saves the girl that I wasn’t expecting it otherwise. So, expectations play a great rol here too. Like if you are watching/reading something about a war you probably would expect that someone could potentially die, that could be shocking by itself but not for the story if you know what are the common outcomes of the theme.

Edit: Though now that I think about it, before the red wedding there was kind of a warning of things that could happen, but it still had that punch… :thinking:

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The only reason the ending of Avengers: Infinity War was so gutting is that Marvel spent SO long building up our investment in the characters and NOT killing off heroes. Bad writers do all kinds of dramatic and awful things that just make readers roll their eyes, because things only matter if readers care about the characters, which takes time.

Also, this is interactive fiction. The player must have agency. The good part is that if the player screws up and gets a red wedding type scenario, they feel personally responsible and it hurts even more. The bad part is that if all endings end red wedding-style, then it loses all meaning and readers hate you. Yes, you personally. Forever.

It’s also worth noting that CS games are getting longer and longer. There’s a very simple reason for that: the more time we spend with characters (all things being equal), the more we care what happens in the end.