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What's a better way to reveal this twist?

I and a fellow screenwriter are writing a script but we have some disagreements on how to handle a twist in it. He says I reveal the twist way too soon, and there is too much foreshadowing.

Basically a cop takes an assignment to go undercover, and get to know a suspect, gain her trust, and then hopefully she will allow him into her crimes, and incriminate herself so he can bust her. Pretty standards so far.

However, I am told by the co-writer, that this is bad, because the reader will assume the suspect is bad, and the twist later is ruined, cause the reader already thinks she is likely bad, because the cop's are investigating her.

He says that I should save the twist as a surprise for later, when she commits a crime, because it would be a much much better time to reveal it to the reader.

However, since a cop is assigned to go undercover to bust her, how do I make the reader not think she may be guilty of a crime?

She is suspected to be guilty of a crime, they assign a cop to investigate and hopefully bust her, so I how exactly would I get the reader to assume she is innocent, and not even suspect she is guilty, cause I have also been told there is too much foreshadowing that needs to go But usually if a cop is assigned to investigate someone and bust them, then the reader will suspect that person MAY be a villain. How do I get rid of that MAY in the reader's mind so they will be completely surprised later, and not see it coming at all?

What do you think? Is their anything I can do to hide suspicion of the reader?
 
What do you think? Is their anything I can do to hide suspicion of the reader?

In my non-professional opinion, as someone who just likes to watch movies:

"Person who appears innocent, but isn't" and "person who appears guilty, but isn't" shouldn't even qualify as twists anymore. I think Law and Order built several franchises on this "twist" being a episodic thing. It's almost like "will they or won't they" when it comes to relationships on-screen between male-female partners who are leads -- of course they will.

For crime shows, the twist itself does not seem to be the draw -- EVERYONE knows that its coming and they usually know what its going to be. It is the how and why that draws people in -- the explanation and the execution.

Don't worry about the twist, she's being falsley investigated (maybe because she pissed off someone with pull, maybe because she dated someone's son or seduced a bigot's daughter, or maybe she was a CI who was pushed in too deep), it does not matter because everyone knows that if you paint her one way at the beginning then the opposite is true; you just need to sell and tell the story well.
 
Okay thanks. I am not as reliant on twists to sell a story as much as my co-writer is. Are you saying that I should have her be under investigation for a DIFFERENT crime originally, because then when her real crime is revealed later, it will be more of a reveal? Like are you saying, I should create a red herring, by having the investigation be something else? Is that what you mean by 'false'?

The co-writer also said that in order to make it a surprise, I should remove the section of the plot where the cops investigate her. That way if the cops have no clue she is the villain, then it will be a surprise. But if I remove the whole section of the cops investigating her, and one going under cover, that's like an eighth of the script being cut out. Is it worth that just for a twist?
 
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One way of making it a surprise that she's a villain is to keep the reveal that the undercover cop is an undercover cop, a secret. That way the reader isn't thinking about the fact she's being investigated because they don't know that information yet.
 
One way of making it a surprise that she's a villain is to keep the reveal that the undercover cop is an undercover cop, a secret. That way the reader isn't thinking about the fact she's being investigated because they don't know that information yet.

Okay thanks. Funny you suggested that because I already suggested that to my co-writer and he says that that will not help. Even though the audience will not know he is a cop, while undercover he still has to get the woman to have certain conversations that will make her implicate her in her crimes to find out if she is the crook. This will make the audience believe she is the one before the twist should be revealed he said and it's foreshadowing her, whether the audience knows he is a cop or not.
 
If the cop is undercover then he would act the way a crook would, so as to not blow their cover. Try to treat the undercover cop character as if he is a crook and not an undercover cop. If you work in that he falls for her, the audience not knowing he's an undercover cop will help sell that he's actually fallen in love with her, when the character actually hasn't but is pretending.

For example:

Two crooks, one male, and the other female, are part of a gang. The gang wants to pull a heist. They have a meeting, in which they divulge all the details of the plan. It turns out the male in love with the woman is an undercover cop because we see him report to his superiors about the details of the heist.

So in that example the audience doesn't know that he was an undercover cop, they just thought he was one of the gang in on the heist.
 
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Yes, I have seen that movie, why?

Also, the reader not knowing that he is an undercover cop, doesn't help hide the woman's guilt. I am trying to hide that the woman is a crook from the reader, cause that is the problem I have been told. Even if I make the reader not know the cop is undercover, which I will do, I still have the problem of the reader knowing that the woman is a crook.

A movie that follows a similar structure to my idea, is The World is not Enough. Not that mine is anything like James Bond. I am going to SPOIL the movie when I use this example:

In that movie Bond suspects that there is something wrong with the "innocent" woman he is protecting because she is acting really strange at the casino. Later the male villain he is after, says a line to him, that is the same line the woman said to him in the casino. So Bond begins to suspect that she and him are both complicit in the same crime and are working together. But he cannot prove it. Later on in the story, the woman villain orders her men to kill the MI6 agents guarding her and to take M hostage, and they do it.

Now they could have not have given any foreshadowing the audience that she was bad. They could have not have had Bond be suspicious at all of her, and save the twist for when she kills the MI6 agents. But for the writers chose to foreshadow the crap out of her possibly being bad, way ahead of time. Why did they choose to do that? I am not sure, but I am use to that formula and have followed it.

But I am being told by my co-writer that foreshadowing is bad and I need to hide the fact the woman is a crook so she cannot talk about anything beforehand to the undercover cop. So is the co-writer right, and I should do it that way? Even if the reader doesn't know he is a cop in this case, they will still be foreshadowed to her guilt, if he asks her certain questions about her life, that will imply to the reader, that she has got something to hide. What do you think?
 
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If it was me I would lead the audience to believe that she is in a relationship with a mob boss or something so they wont question why she is being investigated yet they wont assume she herself is full criminal.
 
@harmonica44

In Reservoir Dogs
Mr. Orange isn't revealed to be the undercover cop until later in the film
so the audience doesn't know that until it's revealed in the narrative, and that's the approach you could take with your undercover cop character.

As for making sure the audience doesn't know she's a crook, you have to decide what you want the audience to know, and when you want them to know it. You could have it that the woman has all these extravagant things, and make the audience think that she's just the daughter of someone who is rich. But then you can do things like have her make arrangements to meet people but cancel at the last minute. Make the audience wonder what's going on in this woman's life. Create a mystery around her.
 
She is suspected to be guilty of a crime, they assign a cop to investigate and hopefully bust her, so I how exactly would I get the reader to assume she is innocent, and not even suspect she is guilty, cause ... usually if a cop is assigned to investigate someone and bust them, then the reader will suspect that person MAY be a villain. How do I get rid of that MAY in the reader's mind so they will be completely surprised later, and not see it coming at all?

What do you think? Is their anything I can do to hide suspicion of the reader?
Yep. :coffee: I see the problem, you need the reader to think she's guilty, then try to convince them she's not, then slam them over the head that she really is. There are things you can do.

A movie that follows a similar structure to my idea
These kind of 'stock behaviors' are repeatedly used in films and television. So anyone seeing yours has probably seen one of these and will (1) suspect your film will use such a pattern and (2) could care less since they are going to see how it fits into the rest of the story.

Stop trying to trick the viewer and focus on entertaining them
. The audience isn't stupid. Modern audiences are really tired of writers and directors who try to force the twist endings. Make her memorable and the chase to prove her guilt or innocence interesting.
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"Okay thanks. But if ... " :pop:
 
Okay thanks. My co-writer is just really against it saying that if the audience has any hit that she is guilty, it will ruin "the big twist" later, and I have to disguise the fact that she is not being investigated even though she is, or I have to cut out the investigation entirely, and opt for something else, up until that time, he says.

If I go with the undercover cop, I will do it like Reservoir Dogs, but he says that her being guilty as a surprise, with no prior suspecting from the reader, is an essential shocking twist that will make or break the script.
 
Okay thanks. My co-writer is just really against it saying that if the audience has any hit that she is guilty, it will ruin "the big twist" later, and I have to disguise the fact that she is not being investigated even though she is, or I have to cut out the investigation entirely, and opt for something else, up until that time, he says.

As FantasySciFi said, you're not going to hide anything from your audience. They (we?) are so used to these twists we'll see them coming as soon as you introduce the characters; and any convolution you introduce to hide it -- unless extremely well done -- will come off as contrived rather than shocking. Tell a good story and make the twist a part of that story, that's why the audience is there -- because they want to see HOW it happens.

Your co-writer sounds like he is thinking that audiences are less genre-savvy than they are, or that they don't watch shows like yours. Or he doesn't watch shows in the genre that you are working on.
 
Okay thanks. Well I have been analyzing the structure of the story a lot. I realize that the twist is still a twist it seems either way. You still think she is good at first and then it is revealed that she is bad. In my version of the story, a character overhears her have a conversation that incriminates her and then reports it, thereby starting the undercover investigation.

However he says that it will be an even bigger surprise, if I save the twist till later, and you think she is innocent till all of a sudden she pulls out a gun and shoots someone by surprise.

Does it matter HOW the twist is revealed though? Is revealing it in dialogue while eavesdropping on a conversation, less exciting than revealing by the villain revealing herself as bad by shooting someone?

Is their a difference in the degrees of shock value or surprise? Does the eavesdropping reveal count as foreshadowing, cause the audience may never be sure until she shoots someone? Cause it seems to me the twist is there either way, just one is a subtle reveal compared to a shocking one, unless it's worth it have a shocking one.
 
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I realize that the twist is still a twist it seems either way. You still think she is good at first and then it is revealed that she is bad. In my version of the story, a character overhears her have a conversation that incriminates her and then reports it, thereby starting the undercover investigation.
[My co-writer] says that it will be an even bigger surprise, if ... later ... she pulls out a gun and shoots someone by surprise.
Big whoop either way. Neither would be very surprising given the genre. Putting a woman in the story as a central character means she's a villain or the ingenue. Either way, she will probably pull out a gun and shoot someone.
Does it matter HOW the twist is revealed though? ... Is their a difference in the degrees of shock value or surprise? ... Cause it seems to me the twist is there either way, just one is a subtle reveal compared to a shocking one, unless it's worth it have a shocking one.
You keep taking about twist, shock and surprise. Honestly, there is nothing you've posted previously or mentioned recently that comes across as qualifying as any of those.

1. If you introduce a character, they are either helping or hindering the lead.
2. Certain genres imply certain behaviors on the central characters. In this case, her turning out to be a villain isn't a surprise. In fact, the longer you try to make her seem innocent, the more "guilty" she will appear.
3. Subtlety is not your writing strength having read your previous samples. A film about women being sexually assaulted by socially awkward men being chased by a cop who gives up everything to go on a one man revenge mission is probably enough shock value for the audience. Honestly, I think she could turn out to be a zombie from Planet 9 and the audience wouldn't be surprised.

While the piece may seem coherent in your mind, from what you've shared, there are significant issues that will cause the audience to scratch their heads. A story has to hold together and make sense before it can have a "twist" or "surprise". When everything is disjoint, it all becomes twisted (not in a good way) so it pulls the audience out of the story.

There was the good cop who decided to randomly break into a house where the bad guys are preparing to rape this woman. There was a bad cop involved there too. Was it the good or bad cop trying to blackmail the prosecutor to take it to court and arrest the victim to compel her to testify? She was in protective custody and the cops are trying to convince her to squeal and break her out of protective custody by posing as gang members reeks of entrapment. And somehow this is all supposed to be legal and allow them to catch the real criminals. You said this happens after she's in court and the main villain gets off due to her testimony. Pissing off the cops and having them also work to stop the rogue good cop from trying to kill/catch the real criminals. Then there's the parabolic mic and the rented public residence used to store incriminating evidence without security. The story elements you shared previously are so "out there" that worrying about her looking like a villain after appearing in court and confessing (or the audience witnessing) her rape of the good male cop is kind of absurd.

With all of this, you think that the girl being a "villain" is a surprise or shocker? You keep treating screenwriting as if it were a collection of "tricks". It's not. It's about developing characters and believable story dynamics.

Choose an approach: yours or your cowriter's. Make the film. Learn from your mistakes for your next one. :pop:
 
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Big whoop either way. Neither would be very surprising given the genre. Putting a woman in the story as a central character means she's a villain or the ingenue. Either way, she will probably pull out a gun and shoot someone.

You keep taking about twist, shock and surprise. Honestly, there is nothing you've posted previously or mentioned recently that comes across as qualifying as any of those.

1. If you introduce a character, they are either helping or hindering the lead.
2. Certain genres imply certain behaviors on the central characters. In this case, her turning out to be a villain isn't a surprise. In fact, the longer you try to make seem innocent, the more "guilty" she will appear.
3. Subtlety is not your writing strength having read your previous samples. A film about women being sexually assaulted by socially awkward men being chased by a cop who gives up everything to go on a one man revenge mission is probably enough shock value for the audience. Honestly, I think she could turn out to be a zombie from Planet 9 and the audience wouldn't be surprised.

While the piece may seem coherent in your mind, from what you've shared, there are significant issues that will cause the audience to scratch their heads. A story has to hold together and make sense before it can have a "twist" or "surprise". When everything is disjoint, it all becomes twisted (not in a good way) so it pulls the audience out of the story.

There was the good cop who decided to randomly break into a house where the bad guys are preparing to rape this woman. There was a bad cop involved there too. Was it the good or bad cop trying to blackmail the prosecutor to take it to court and arrest the victim to compel her to testify? She was in protective custody and the cops are trying to convince her to squeal and break her out of protective custody. And somehow this is all supposed to be legal and allow them to catch the real criminals. You said this happens after she's in court and the main villain gets off due to her testimony. Pissing off the cops and having them also work to stop the rogue good cop from trying to kill/catch the real criminals. The story elements you shared previously are so "out there" that worrying about her looking like a villain after appearing in court and confessing (or the audience witnessing) her rape of the male cop is kind of absurd.

With all of this, you think that the girl being a "villain" is a surprise or shocker? You keep treating screenwriting as if it were a collection of "tricks". It's not. It's about developing characters and believable story dynamics.

Choose an approach: yours or your cowriter's. Make the film. Learn from your mistakes for your next one. :pop:

Okay thanks. I am writing a whole new script now with a similar idea, but instead I am trying to take a new approach, which is let the characters make the most logical decisions as possible, and have the characters decisions be the driving force, instead of plot points as much.

However, I am not really confident in making everything as realistic as possible because the story is much more low key as a result and feels much less suspenseful. I mean the advantage is, is that audiences might buy it more on a believable level, but I feel that they might also feel cheated since I chose a low key, more realistic third act, that might make audiences feel that it's anticlimatic, but that's how realistic crime stories are, are anti-climatic, because people make decisions that would not result in such a big climax in real life.

So even though it's believable, as long as they don't feel cheated, then that's good. As for the twist, I didn't really see it as near as big of a twist as my co-writer does, and I do not think it's a twist "because she is a woman".
 
People make emotional decisions which are not always rational or logical but they are always motivated by something important to the individual. I'm glad to hear you've decided to take a new approach.

There is the emotional story (subjective) and the actual, visual story (objective). If you pay attention and resolve the subjective/emotional story, the audience will be content even if the objective story is open-ended.

Develop good characters, make them behave true to their nature and make the events believable. There are no tricks. Choose an approach: yours or your cowriter's. Make the film. Learn from your mistakes for your next one. Good luck!
 
One most of the difficult things of writing, is writing a script to the locations I have available. Now before, the climax where the villain meets his demise was in a parking garage. However, when trying to come up with a more logical climax, I have arrived at an ending that takes place in a morgue.

However, it would be really difficult to gain access to shooting in a morgue, I am guessing. So I will have to decide if it's possible to break logic, and be able to set the ending somewhere else, or if I must have it in the morgue.

That's just one example of why I have doubts with the new ending. But I will keep plugging at it.
 
I agree with others here. There is really an endless string of movies with the setup you are laying out here.

Sea of Love, Jagged Edge, Basic Instinct, etc. Detective noir's are full of this type of thing.

And, as you mention, MANY of the Bond movies, and indeed the spy genre in general, have this plot. Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation even centered around this.

The most successful of these movies don't try to hide the fact that the love interest is guilty, the fact that the woman (or man) that the detective/agent/journalist is investigating is probably a criminal or dangerous is what makes the story interesting!

Now, some of these movies end with the femme fatale being innocent. Some end with her being guilty. Some end slightly ambiguously.

I will say, in a most of these movies, the full reveal of whether or not the person is innocent or guilty is definitely closer to the end, if not the very end. Some do a double twist at the end.

One way to think of it is this: If your protagonist is a cop or detective, he usually has some sense of justice, even if it is buried deep inside. If he starts to get really interested in this woman, after a while, that sense of justice might come out as he starts to want to believe she is innocent, even though the evidence seems to be that she is guilty. Suddenly, our detective is paying more attention to leads that might prove her innocent, instead of ones that prove her guilty.

You have to make this journey interesting though. The relationship between them has to make sense and be mesmerizing. Set up decisions and actions that your female character will make that make sense for who she is, or who we know her to be, but suddenly don't make sense in the context of the criminal investigation. Or vice versa, have her do something that is personally out of character from what the detective knows her to be, but makes sense in the context of either guilt or innocence criminally. This will keep the audience on their toes.
 
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