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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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Story Twist & Oscillation

There are two structures which have attracted people's attention for many years:

Courts and Poker.

Breaking them down a little you can see a similar pattern.


Procecution presents their case.  Fair enough - they should, we're establishing why we are here to begin with - what exactly is the problem?  By the end of this, you pretty much know the defendant is guilty.

Next - Defense presents it's case.  Suddenly a new revelation and whatever the prosecution had said is seen in a different context and now - we don't know - we have our dilemma.  Who do we believe? 

We will oscillate between these until the end of the case and people are interested in this because we are never sure what to believe.

(Look back in the blogs for the descrīption of Flighplan in the comments section for more on this concept of oscillation)

Let's look at poker.... many variations - let's use texas holdem

Basically assume 9 players at the table, everyone gets 2 cards only they know.  this is all of the "story" you know... then, over time cards are revealed ont he table. first three cards which basically presents and entire "case" - five cards is the whole story and now there are five cards.  But you only know your version.  Everytime a new card is presented - it's a new version of the possible end of the story. 

A paradigm shift.  For example, the person who had a 5 and a 4 in his hand didn't seem so good at the start - but if the cards on the table might reveal 5,K,7  - still not so good, but there is hope.  Next card. 4.  Now, more hope.... final card 5.  Now... you're sitting on a full house.  who woudl guess it? 

The point is not teching poker here, but understanding the basic forumula.

Establish a situation and conflict such that your audience will know the outcome.  Then... do not deny anything - but by adding to it... you redefine the entire story and a new outcome is possible.  You keep doing this - once the audience thinks one thing, you switch it to the next.... that's oscillation.

****Added Later ******

I want to clarify "oscillation."  In retrospet, I did not do a very good job of delineating "twist" verses oscillation.

I guess I was still a bit overworked while doing this....

...but I will do that here.....    A Twist is when a story suddenly heads in a new direction.  An Oscillation is the fulcrum (central question) of the entire story.

For example... is our character insance or is there really a conspiracy against her?  That's the central question - the fulcrom - of a movie.... this is the courtroom example where we think the defendent is either innocent or guilty as more and more information is presented.

The twist is when something happens and the story shifts entirely... this is the poker game example.  A new card is placed and suddenly the game is totally different.  But the game will never go back to the previous state.

about 15 years ago 0 likes  16 comments  0 shares
Photo 22998
I added some information to delineate twist from oscillation. See - good I'm blogging all this before I turn it into my book. ;)
about 15 years ago
Photo 22998
Well... that's good I just felt like my thought and point had been incomplete anyway. :)
about 15 years ago
Photo 22998
A twist is a revelation which changes the story forever. It will change the course of events. The story can no longer go the way it was expected. An Oscillation is what you are rocking back and forth on the entire time. So they affect different aspects. You might think. Twists affect plots while oscillations are usually a central dilemma.
about 15 years ago
Photo 22998
Cokie - think of oscilation as a balance. one way or the other... "she loves me... she loves me not... she loves me... she loves me not..." or "she's insane... she's being persecuted... she's insane.... she's being persecuted." "He's a good guy... no, he's manipulating people... no, he's doing it out of a good heart... wait, no - he's just pretending to do it from a good heart and he's really selfish... no, wait, it seems like he is good after all because he's helping that needy person... no, now it looks like he sucks because he's actually using that needy person in his big scheme."
about 15 years ago
Photo 49253
We also can describe the count scene by poker. The difference is there are only 2 players. The prosecutor presentde a card and the defentant presented his one ,the two guys revealed cards one by one,each one leaded the story to a different direction, we don/t how many cards in their hands and which one will be revealed next,then we get the “twist”.right:?:)
over 14 years ago
Photo 22998
mm-yao - yes, that's right... it's the same thing in all the instances... In fact, this also ties into the MRirian post I made recently - where I am saying she will need to play a new card to keep the audience's interest. All this stuff relates to each other - it's all intertwined.
over 14 years ago
Photo 49253
yeh,when one clue breaks down,at the same time the other clue has been waiting and begins to work.we have hid it for a long time ,fortunately,nobody notice it.IOI
over 14 years ago
Photo 49253
oh,no,it shouldn't be a long time.if time is to long,people will forget it.
over 14 years ago


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