As a fan of fiction, I applaud stories that reel me in with not only unexpected endings, but with characters that lay low making the biggest difference when the story is said and done.
The recent example I’ve written about the most recently is the history based “The White Queen” with Richard of York beginning as the quiet youngest son of York in the background of his elder brother Edward, always loyal, always present. By watching the first couple of episodes one would find it hard to believe this is the same Richard as the infamous Richard III well known in Shakespeare’s play and something about a couple of young Princes that entered the Tower of London and were never seen again. Richard’s involvement in the fate of the Princes is debated today, but true or not, his legacy will wear it because he was King at the time.
Another favorite plot turner is the comedy “Snatch” where to me the most important character is the dog. Movie fans, check it out if you haven’t seen it; Brad Pitt is never a bad thing on a film and I love dogs.
One of my favorites all time low-key plot turners were from the film “Layer Cake” starring Daniel Craig. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it if you like gangster films with a large cast of interesting characters. When one million ecstasy pills are stolen from a Serbian illegal drug manufacturer, who will decide the outcome? The middleman drug dealer makes the connections played by Daniel Craig. But from there, will it be the powerful businessman Mr. Temple, his rival Mr. Price, the Serbian hitman Dragan (an awesome character), the loud gangster winnable Duke, or a known drug dealer with no connections to the other characters? I won’t spoil the story, but when I think of the way it ended, it really makes sense when all is said and done, and I applaud the writing in the plot turning ending. (Who really will wind up with illegal drugs to sell?)
In moving to Dark Fantasy, the most famous plot turner to me is Gollum of “Lord of the Rings.” Despite the “trickesy” Hobbits, Gollum was not stupid and knew what he wanted the whole time. Because of the events at Mount Doom, Gollum is arguably the most important character in the story, as Sauron wouldn’t have been defeated without him.
Writers, as we create our stories, we keep in mind readers look for plot turners. When placed in the most unusual places sometimes the least likely character can give the biggest “bang” which is part of what makes a story great.