Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters travel through time, whether they’re jumping forward, backward, or attempting some combination.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Unexpected Team Up, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Time Travel

For today’s prompt, have your characters travel through time. They can jump into the future, travel to the past, or attempt to do both. Time travel has long been an interesting plot twist device, but it comes with quite a few risks—both for your characters and for your story.

(6 Things to Ask Yourself About Your Time-Travel Story.)

Jumping back in time is probably the most problematic, because it comes with the most potential for paradoxes. A character who goes back in time could disrupt their own reality, for instance, by splitting up their parents or grandparents (or however far you want to go back), and making it so that they were never born in the new timeline, because a new timeline will be made with the tiniest of alterations.

Following that logic, it should be impossible to jump back to the same reality when returning back to the original time. Of course, that doesn’t keep storytellers from bending reality back to fit their stories. However, it’s a complication that has to be recognized and overcome.

Jumping into the future has it’s own dilemmas as well, because it’s jumping into the unknown. Also, predictions about future technology are sure to be dated at some point. And if the goal is to jump back into the past, it can mean that the reality of the future may be wiped out (and meaningless) once the time traveler(s) jumps back to their original time. Because time travel is so complicated.

But speaking of complicated paradoxes, time travel is also fun—for readers and writers—because they do create debates about what ifs and what could be possible. So let your characters travel through time and see what happens next.


Have you hit a wall on your work-in-progress? Maybe you know where you want your characters to end up, but don’t know how to get them there. Or, the story feels a little stale but you still believe in it. Adding a plot twist might be just the solution.

Click to continue.

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