Ambiguity is in the Eye of the Beholder

The ambiguous ending can be the hardest to write because it can easily fall flat. It can be a thin line between leaving the ending ambiguous and leaving it confusing. By this I mean that a good ambiguous ending can promote interesting debate with people pitching in different ideas, it goes wrong when it leaves […]

To Answer or Not to Answer

One of the biggest problems with endings is answering questions. It’s not always finding the answers that’s the problems, quite often by the time you get there you know the answers, it’s how many you answer. Do you tie everything up with nice little bows? Do you leave them all dangling for an ambiguous ending? […]

Fooled You

When you’re developing a villain it doesn’t mean you can’t do a little narrative sleight of hand and have a hero become a villain and villain become a hero. Crime fiction is full of examples where writers use red-herrings misleading readers with who characters are. Often they do this by presenting a list of possible […]

Teasing Out a Tangle

Plot tangles are a fact of life, especially in the first draft, even Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens had plot tangles and they were prolific. The thing to do is not panic, I know that’s a cliché but realising there’s a tangle or a hole in your plot is not a disaster. These sorts of […]

Taking the Plot

Christopher Booker argues there are seven basic plots: Overcoming the monster Rags to riches The quest Voyage and return Comedy Tragedy Rebirth Others argue more and others argue fewer but the principle is the same; all stories have been told before. Now, as I said in Making the New From the Old, that doesn’t mean […]

Twists and Turns

Having considered the basic structure of narrative, beginning, middle and end, now we have to take a deeper look. I should perhaps start by saying,  personally,  I like to keep structure that simple, I find if I start thinking too hard about frameworks and hitting targets I start getting blocked. However, there are a numerous […]

Beginning at the Beginning

‘Narrative structure’ is one of those terms that makes the essentially simple sound unnecessarily complex. Narrative structure begins with: Beginning, middle and end. Have those three things and immediately there’s structure to your story, now they can be played around with but we’ll get there in time. On its most basic level narrative is: ‘Once […]