Three Ways Writing A Plot Twist Is Like Telling A Joke

These jokes are great. The points made about plot twists needing set up and an element of surprise are spot on!

Allison Maruska

Who doesn’t love a good joke? Lots of people pay hard-earned money to see comedians stand on stage and make them laugh. But have you thought about what makes a joke funny?

There’s an element of surprise when a joke makes you laugh. You expect a story or situation to go one direction, and it ends up going another in an amusing way.


The other day, I was talking with Dan about writing surprises in a story – twists, if you will. A good twist needs a few things to be most effective, but it need not be complicated. In fact, twist-writing and joke-telling have a few things in common.

1. They both play on common experiences.

Consider the joke tweet by Jonnysun up there. With the first two lines, we’re in a scene with a tired mall Santa at the end of a long day. We expect a tale involving settling…

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