Twisting The Norm - Story ideas that take something normal and subvert it

Over the weekend, I went to see the new horror film, Smile, written and directed by Parker Finn.
I thought it was a solid spooky film, perfectly timed for the Halloween season.

What I thought was interesting is they took a positive thing (People Smiling) and subverted it to be something terrifying. That got me thinking of other kinds of stories that take something normal or positive and twist it inside out.

Like how Peter Benchley’s Jaws made people fear the water - “See it before you go swimming.”
Or how Stephen King’s Cujo transformed the lovable cuddly St. Bernard into a violent, dangerous beast - “Man’s best friend turns into his worst enemy”

What are some other examples or ideas for subverting something normal or positive?

Maybe a story where a curse can be transmitted through crying. So characters begin to fear people who cry, while also trying to hold in their emotions. If done well, it could play with the themes of grief, stress and emotional baggage.

Or how about if a certain word spoken aloud could kill? It starts as an urban legend, then becomes a rumor. The more people hear about this word, the more it is used and the more people die. If you try to warn people about it, the more it spreads? Can it even be stopped now? :scream:

What do you think? What are some unique story ideas for taking something regular or positive and twisting and subverting it?

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The Weeping Angels in Doctor Who always got me.


thanks for the ideas very inspiring

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Oh yeah! That’s a great one @RTGraver. What an iconic creation!
I know a long-time Doctor Who fans who is still terrified of those Angels. It was definitely effective!

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You are very welcome @hovea9! We should build a list of these types of narratives.
It is quite a fun topic to brainstorm! :brain: :zap:

I woke up today thinking of writing a child custody case from the reverse point of view. I have some experience in Family Court matters and I was going to twist the father’s story as if it was the mother’s and put the mother’s words into the father’s mouth. It’s an area with plenty of twists and turns.

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I love to hear new ideas. And this sounds very intriguing @hovea9. Immediately I want to know what that sounds like.

Actually, I remember when I was writing my second short film, I put two characters in a situation that was more akin to the crime and thriller genre, but I wrote their dialogue as a parental drama - And then connected it all together, to make it make sense :sweat_smile:
It was early days in my writing career, but I was happy with the results.

Not sure why I decided that route. I suppose in those short story styles, it is too easy to have characters just talk about literally what they are doing. And I was looking to discover another layer in those 7 pages.

I’m a big fan of experimenting like that and think your idea definitely sounds worthy of a few hours of time and a couple of cups of :coffee:!
Best of luck with that @hovea9!

Thanks for the feedback. I will let you know how it works out.

Kind Regards

Liz Berger GAICD, M.A.Soc.Sc.
Author: The Red Silk Cord - Amazon & Barnes and Noble.

Mobile: 0402530255

May God Bless Your Day

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How about some really beautiful flowers, roses maybe, that are the envy of the neighborhood. The owner wins prizes for them regularly, they are featured in gardening magazines all over the country, photographers sell pictures of them as stock photos. But the reason they grow that beautiful is that the owner waters them with human blood.


Whoa! :sweat_smile:
Okay, you got me with that one @Chandra_Storm . I was reading it and thinking “nice, where are we going with this…” And then BOOM :sweat_smile:

That’s one heckova dark twist. Great stuff! :sunflower: :wilted_flower:

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How about a beautiful house that is the center of the street but anyone who owns it never seem to last more than a year then suddenly disappears no one looks into the reasons but behind the doors of the seemingly, harmless house it’s slowly draining the life of its occupants and they become the life of the house that everyone admires.