Finally. My brain understands why the twist is so powerful in short fiction. Why 'the twist' crops up again and again in articles and posts about short fiction.
Of course I would have figured this out earlier simply by reading stories with a twist and thinking about how/if those stories would work without the twist. Would've realised that . . . well, the story wouldn't work.
Pretty bloody simple really.
Light bulb went on after I read "The Quiet" by Cara Long.
The story opens with a man visiting his dying mother in hospital. He sits next to her thinking about his wife, the end of their marriage. You're shown stuff that makes you suspect the wife is cold and unfeeling.
But by the end of story you understand that she needs more intimacy, a partner more engaged with life. And you suspect that the man's mother isn't always asleep when her eyes are closed.
SmokeLong Quarterly—"The Quiet" by Cara Long—:
Just after reading Cara Long's piece I did a crit for a flash that showed an MC hoping to be rescued and then getting rescued. But the story was flat. Something was missing. My expectation was met.
In short fiction there isn't enough room to build up suspense or a series of emotional highs and lows. Instead, the reader can be given a significant twist, a powerful moment of surprise and discovery.
I got excited about using a twist in my short piece about a girl waking up to reality. In the first draft I showed a BF who was obviously cold and selfish. In the re-write I'm now trying to (falsely) present the BF as a sweet absent minded professor. I want the girl AND the reader to be fooled by him at first.