Do I understand correctly that 'plot twist' is the same as 'plot turn' but even more surprising? Is there any distinct line between the two? Furthermore, does the word 'spoiler' apply only to instances of revealing plot twists but not plot turns?

3 Answers 3


I can best illustrate the difference by examining the actual language of an analysis of an actual novel, Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner. All we have to know about the plot is that Sophia, an aristocratic Englishwoman, ends up in Paris in 1848, a year of revolution. Sophia forms a relationship with her husband's mistress Minna, whose death in the unrest is unambiguously attested to by reliable witnesses. The author hints, however, that Minna actually survives.

In his book *Literary Theories: A Reader and Guide (1999) Julian Wolfreys writes

Having offered us a plausible (or semiplausible) ending, she [the author] now hints, seemingly capriciously, at a far more unlikely plot turn, as if perversely determined to revert to the most fantastical kind of closure imaginable.

Here we see that a plot turn is simply the course of a narrative. It may be completely unsurprising, in this case "plausible," to find that a character dies in wartime. Or it may be "fantastical," if it turn out that a battle fatality somehow escapes the grave.

A plot twist, on the other hand, is a plot turn that the author has attempted to conceal from the reader and which is supposed to be a surprise. The revelation of the twist upends the reader's or viewer's understanding of the story before the twist is revealed.

Spoiler can apply to any revelation that ruins a reader's or viewer's enjoyment of a book or film. This could be the confirming of an unsurprising plot element, such as Minna's death in Summer Will Show. But it's often used to mean telling the secret of a narrative, which deprives readers of both the surprise in the narrative and the pleasure of trying to solve a puzzle on their own.


"Plot twist" is an extremely common phrase referring to a revelation in a story that's intended to be surprising and change the way previous events are interpreted. A character you thought was nice might turn out to be the mastermind villain, a pair of archenemies might turn out to be brothers, or a sizable portion of the story might turn out to have been a dream, just to name a few clichés. Spoilers definitely apply to plot twists.

"Plot turn" isn't really a codified phrase. It might be intended the same way as "plot twist," it might be used by a certain writer with a specific contrasting meaning, or it might just be a way of referring to any event that changes a story's direction. It should be interpreted in context according to what it references.


Plot twist is a twist or a phrase which is intended to be surprise or unexpected while plot turn is the turning point of a story.. for example: a character's death can change the direction of the story, like Cedric deggory in Harry Potter and the goblet of fire

  • This adds nothing to the existing answers.
    – Chenmunka
    Jun 7, 2021 at 7:39

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