Category: narrative techniques

Narrative Techniques Series: #20 Red herring

Narrative Techniques Series: #20 Red herring

We have come to the end of the journey in our Narrative Technique Series. We conclude with a very special technique, the Red herring, which has nothing to do with herring.

However, you may have frequently come across this red herring in books or films. What is it? We explain it below.

What is the Narrative Technique of Red herring?

Red herring occurs when a clue or information is inserted into the narrative deliberately to distract attention from other elements. For example, in a mystery book, an innocent person is presented as guilty, using wrong clues and ambiguous words.

The term was popularised in 1807 by the English polemicist William Cobbett. It seems that the expression “Red herring” derives from the custom of English hunters. Cobbett told a story about using a strong-smelling smoked fish to divert and distract dogs from chasing a rabbit.

Red herring: purpose and uses

The purpose of red herring is to mislead the reader or viewer to what is really going on. In this way, it allows the culprit to pass as innocent. At least for a few moments until they are unmasked.

It is hard to use this technique. The author has to be able to play it cleverly with the perception of the plot and the characters.

They have to lead the reader to believe that the truth is another. This inevitably leads to a final twist, when the reader realizes what really happened and that the author has only diverted his attention during the narrative.

It is, therefore, a challenging technique to use but very useful. It manages to complicate the plot of the story and at the same time create that climax that turns into the final twist.

Examples of the Red herring Narrative Technique

Agatha Christie‘s books often use a red herring to distract the reader from the real culprit.
In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the reader is led to believe that the two main characters hate each other, but this turns out to be a way of hiding the fact that they have conspired to kill someone.

In cinema, we can find this element in Alfred Hitchcock’s films, where characters and things turn out to be anything but what the viewer expects them to be.

One of the most modern examples of red herring found in books and, consequently, in films is Harry Potter. Particularly about the character of Snape. It is only at the end of the Harry Potter saga that we learn that all along, Snape has been doing nothing but trying to watch over Harry, protecting him on more than one occasion.

From the tip of his wand emerged the silver doe: it landed on the office floor, made a leap and dived out of the window. Dumbledore watched it fly away and when its silver glow faded he turned to Snape, his eyes filled with tears. “After all this time?” “Always,” Snape replied.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The innovative software of bibisco to write your story

bibisco is the tool that helps you write a story.

Thanks to its novel writing software and valuable tips in the blog section, you will know what structure to give your story. You will also find it easy to create characters and use the narrative techniques discussed in our articles. Try it now, and you’ll love it!

Narrative Techniques Series: #20 Red herring- bibisco chapters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco chapters’ section

Conclusions

The Red herring is that element that misleads the reader, making them believe that things are different from how they are presented. This technique is as difficult to use as it is useful. It distracts the reader and creates the perfect environment for the final twist. Only there, you discover that you have only been misled all along.

Narrative Techniques: #19 Poetic Justice

Narrative Techniques: #19 Poetic Justice

The journey in our series of narrative techniques continues. This time we are talking about “Poetic Justice“. It is a narrative technique that has to do with what is right to happen and that carries with it a moral lesson.

What is the Narrative Technique of Poetic Justice?

In every story, there is a good and a bad character. Often readers become attached to the good character. They would like the bad character to be given a just punishment. On the contrary, the good character is rewarded for his good actions. Simply put, the reader typically likes the story to end with a happy ending.
Poetic Justice is just that when good triumphs over evil.

Thomas Rymer coined the term ‘Poetic Justice’. He was a theater critic who wrote the essay ‘The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider’d’ in 1678.
According to Rymer, a narrative should tell of the triumph of good over evil to give readers an example of social morality.

What is the aim of Poetic Justice?

Many stories, like fairy tales, contain a final message or moral lesson.
Nowadays, however, there are several novels about ‘bad’ characters who sometimes win out over good.

The purpose of Poetic Justice is to celebrate justice and the concept of morality. It teaches readers that correct and just behavior is rewarded. Bad and incorrect behavior, on the other hand, is punished.

Narrative Technique of Poetic Justice: some examples

There are several examples of this narrative technique.

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, the bad character, is represented by Mr. Bumble, the orphanage director. Mr. Bumble enjoys punishing the orphans. At the end of the novel, it turns out that Mr. Bumble becomes poor, just like the poor orphans he had always persecuted.

Another example of Poetic Justice, in more recent literature, is Harry Potter in books written by J.K.Rowling. At the end of the saga, Harry Potter succeeds in defeating Voldemort, a dark character against whom he has been fighting for years.

Finally, think of fairy tales. All Disney cartoons end with a happy ending.
For example, in the Little Mermaid, Ariel defeats Ursula, the evil sea witch. Ariel gets married to Prince Eric and lives happily ever after.

I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will question my powers. After tonight, if they speak of you, they will speak only of how you begged to die and how I, as a merciful Lord, favored you.

Voldemort- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The innovative novel writing software of bibisco: an important help!

To write a story, you have to know where to start. Even if you have a good plot in mind, it is not always easy to write the words on paper and make the story compelling.

That is why there are narrative techniques that the author can use. You can clarify the characters, plot, ending, and narrative techniques that will capture your reader’s attention. Moreover, there is innovative novel writing software from bibisco. You can use it to put your ideas in order.

Narrative Techniques Series #19: Poetic Justice- bibisco's chapters section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapters section

Conclusions

The narrative technique Poetic Justice celebrates morality and the ending that everyone wants: good triumphing over evil.
It is more than a narrative technique. It is a lesson in life, where the good character is rewarded, and the bad character is punished.

Narrative Techniques Series: #18 MacGuffin

Narrative Techniques Series: #18 MacGuffin

Have you ever heard of the MacGuffin? MacGuffin is one of the most interesting and complex Narrative Techniques.
Indeed, you have noticed this Narrative Technique in some books or films.

We will explain in detail what it is and the characteristics of the MacGuffin Narrative Technique.

What is the Narrative Technique of MacGuffin?

It is the narrative device around which the characters’ attention is focused, although it has no definite or relevant meaning for the viewer. It is just a pretext, an element that gives the beginning to the story.

The master of thrills, Alfred Hitchcock, coined this term. Even if some believe that his screenwriter friend, Angus MacPhail, is the authentic father of this term.

What is the aim of the MacGuffin?

In many thriller novels and films appears the MacGuffin technique. It is something that appears at the beginning of the story. Also, sometimes reappear at the climax of the story. Before the end, however, the reader forgets it because it is never the essential element of the narrative.

The MacGuffin is an element capable of attracting the audience’s attention. It forces them to ask questions, thus making them an active part of the narrative.

On the other hand, a story is defined as exciting when it succeeds in provoking strong emotions in the reader or viewer.

This is what the MacGuffin is for. Its goal is to insert an element into your story with the sole purpose of provoking a reaction in the audience. In this way, it will be forced to go to the end of the story to understand why it is there.

MacGuffin: some examples

As a first example, let us take a film by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho.
The film starts with a girl who steals an envelope with 40,000 dollars. Then, she takes it with her, fleeing the city. Several times we see images of this envelope, almost as if it were the focus of the narrative.
In reality, the envelope is completely forgotten as the scenes go by. The money is merely a narrative device.

MacGuffin allows the story to begin and then disappears from the scene without the viewer noticing.

In Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, we see a briefcase. Everyone wants it, and this object allows the story to have a beginning, an end, and a development. However, the contents of the briefcase are never revealed.
This is one of the most striking examples of the use of MacGuffin. This technique is used to give an opening to the narrative. Spectators will never know what is in the case, and they won’t wonder about its contents.

The reason is that this object is only marginal. In fact, at the end of the film, the spectator will not remember the case but other details.

One can imagine a conversation between two men on a train.
One says to the other: “What’s that package you put on the luggage rack?”
The other guy says, “Oh that’s a MacGuffin.”
So the guy says, “What’s a MacGuffin?”
The other guy: “It’s a device for catching lions in the Adirondacks.”
First guy: “But there are no lions in the Adirondacks.”
So the other guy goes, “Well, then it’s not a MacGuffin!”

As you can see, a MacGuffin is nothing.

Alfred Hitchcock- interviewed by François Truffaut

The novel planning software of bibisco

Why should one rely on novel planning software to write a story with all these narrative techniques to be used?
As we are seeing in our narrative techniques series, the narrative techniques are many and are hard to put into practice.
Thanks to bibisco and its novel planning software, it will be easier for you to understand which narrative technique is best suited to your narrative. You can also know how to capture the reader’s attention and develop your story.

bibisco's architecture of the novel. Narrative Techniques Series: MacGuffin
bibisco’s architecture of the novel

Conclusions

The narrative technique of the MacGuffin is as effective as it is difficult to use. Of all narrative techniques, it is the one that requires the most attention.

It is essential to avoid inserting an element that is then taken out of context, which puts the reader off track, disorienting them or confusing him.

Narrative Techniques Series: #17 Eucatastrophe

Narrative Techniques Series: #17 Eucatastrophe

During our Narrative Technique Series, we have explained some well-known techniques and some lesser-known ones.
However, the one in this article you may have heard of a few times or perhaps never even heard of. We are talking about the Narrative Technique of Eucatastrophe.

What is the Narrative Technique of Eucatastrophe?

It is a very particular Narrative Technique invented and used by Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings“. It describes a series of unfortunate events that the protagonist faces, foreshadowing that their destiny is already fulfilled and will not have a positive turn.

Suddenly, however, these events lead to an unexpected end, preventing the protagonist from falling into disgrace.
It has a little to do with the concept of the happy ending, so much used in fairy tales. Tolkien, however, loved fairy tales, and probably, Eucatastrophe is also part of Tolkien’s defense of writing and reading fairy tales.

J.R.R Tolkien invented this word starting from the Greek prefix “-eu” which means “good” and “catastrophe” which reveal a drama.

According to Tolkien, there is something divine about including a sudden and unexpected positive breakthrough in a tale that seems to take an entirely different turn.

The fairy tale form, which implies the use of the Happy Ending, is a literary structure that mainly allows authors to express their personal experiences of Eucatastrophe in fiction.

Eucatastrophe and the Deus Ex Machina Narrative Techniques

We may also compare the Eucatastrophe to the Deus Ex Machina Narrative Technique. This Technique is used in fiction to indicate that unexpected turn during the plot. Usually, it appears at the end, but not always. This surprising event solves one or more problems in a ‘fortuitous’ way without a genuine cause and effect correlation.

There is a slight difference between these two techniques. The Eucatastrophe seems to be the worst thing ever, but, in the end, it reveals to be the element that solves the situation and the main character.

On the opposite, the Deus Ex Machina is something that we assume to have significant importance, and that reveals to be precisely how we think, without any explanation or expectation.

Eucatastrophe and some examples

We can find one first example of Eucatastrophe in The Lord of the Rings, towards the conclusion. The series of events makes the reader think that the supreme catastrophe is imminent: Frodo finally arrived at Sammath Naur, the Pit of Fire where he was supposed to throw the Ring. Frodo claims the evil object for himself by slipping it on his finger. It seems that the venture is over; the Ring-bearer has succumbed to his power.

But immediately, the most unexpected event occurs: Gollum, who has entered by stealth, throws himself at Frodo and fights against him for possession of the Ring. He bites off his finger and takes the Ring from Frodo, but rejoicing at his lucky find, he loses his balance and falls into the Abyss.

Another example from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is when Prince Peter is about to be defeated by the White Witch. She seems to take the power again until, unexpectedly, it appears Aslan, who everyone believed as dead.

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality’.

J.R.R Tolkien- Tolkien On Fairy Stories

Create your story with an innovative novel writing software

Have you ever used the novel writing software of bibisco? It may help you create a story full of action, twists, exciting dialogues, and complex characters so that your reader will want to know immediately how the narrative ends!

Narrative Techniques Series #17: Eucatastrophe- bibisco's Timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s timeline

Conclusions

J.R.R. Tolkien coined anew narrative term, theEucatastrophe,to define a series of actions that lead to an unexpected ending, a happy ending despite the bad events faced by the characters in the story.

It is a kind of happy ending reminiscent of fairy tale narration.

Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Let’s move on our journey between the Narrative Techniques Series.

Whether you believe in destiny or not, it seems evident that there is a common thread in everyone’s life. As in reality, so it is in narration. In particular, there is a Narrative Technique called Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. It leads the protagonist to discover the inevitability of their destiny.

What is the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

This Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is not always a prophecy with a negative meaning. It can be a happy event that is foretold and then actually happens.
Similarly, the prophecy can be announced by a human character and not necessarily divine or magical. It can also be foretold in a funny, sympathetic way.

What is the function of the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

The purpose of using the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is twofold. First, it allows the reader to have a defined plot already. Secondly, to follow the narrative’s events carefully to see whether the prophecy finally comes true.

Most likely, it provides a few more details about the protagonist’s character. Are they a character who reacts to events or who suffers them? Will they be able to change their destiny despite the prophecy? These questions allow the reader to get a better idea of the protagonist and become engrossed in the story.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: some examples

An early example of the Narrative Technique of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is the one used in ‘Sleeping Beauty‘.
At the beginning of the story, the witch Maleficent appears at the court of the King and Queen. She wants to welcome little Aurora into the world. As a gift, she gives her a prophecy that she will die from a yarn needle on her sixteenth birthday.

Aurora’s three fairy godmothers turn the prediction curse from death to deep sleep as a precaution. Only a kiss of real love can wake her up. Needless to say, the prophecy comes true on Aurora’s birthday. She falls into a deep sleep, but the kiss of true love awakes her.

In the same way, in the ‘Matrix‘, there is also a prophecy and even the figure of the Oracle. When Neo goes to her to find out what his destiny will be, he immediately realizes the potential of the Oracle. Before Neo hits a vase, he says, “Don’t worry about the vase”, which will fall a few seconds later.

What the Oracle reveals to Neo is secret and has a hidden meaning. He thinks he is not the right person for the mission, the Chosen One. Thanks to these doubts and his personality, however, Neo will manage to find the strength and the right path to fulfill his destiny.

The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But, before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.

Maleficent- The Sleeping Beauty

bibisco and the novel planning software

The narrative technique of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is significant to set up the plot of a story.
It allows building an imaginary bridge between the beginning and the end of the narrative. It gives the starting to the series of events leading towards the final prophecy.
To find out how and which narrative technique to use, you can use the novel planning software of bibisco.

Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - bibisco's chapter section
bibisco’s chapter section

Conclusions

This is one of the most ancient of our Narrative Techniques Series.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy aims to predict the protagonist’s fate at the end of the narrative. On the one hand, it makes it possible for the protagonist to follow the story prudently because they already have an idea of what might happen in the ending and want to check if this is really the case.

On the other hand, it allows the readers to know the protagonist better and see their temperament: will they react to events? Will they be able to change his destiny or not?

Narrative Techniques Series: #15 Predestination paradox

Narrative Techniques Series: #15 Predestination paradox

In the Narrative Techniques Series, the technique we address in this article is that of the Predestination paradox.
This is a technique especially typical of science fiction stories and involves a return to the past.

What is the Narrative Technique of the Predestination paradox?

The predestination paradox is a situation in which a person travels back in time. The intent is to change the outcome and becomes a part of past events.

In addition, they are more likely to have the ability to cause the initial events that inspired the person to travel back in time in the first place.

History is meant to be predestined in this case. No matter if someone tries to alter the past event, the event will eventually be fulfilled.

We speak, in fact, of the Predestination paradox because the traveler will find themself involved in a series of events that force them to face a journey through time. This is travel into the unknown. The character has to pay a lot of attention not to change the course of things in the present time.

In other words, history is predetermined. Any interaction with past events will only have the choice to function consistently so that established past events will remain preserved.

How to apply the Narrative Technique of the Predestination paradox?

Often this narrative technique involves the presence of a particular object. How can one return to the past?
The introduction of an object, large or small, will take the protagonist on a journey back in time.

We can find some famous examples of objects used to go back in time and create the predestination paradox in movies and fiction.

Let’s think about Marty McFly, the protagonist of “Back to the Future” by Robert Zemeckis. To travel through time, Marty and Doc use the well-known car “DeLorean”.

Similarly, in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban“, Dumbledore gives Hermione a curious object, a time-wheel. The girl can use it to attend multiple school classes on the same day. But also to help Harry save the hippogriff Buckbeak and his godfather, Sirius Black.

Three turns should do it.

J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

bibisco helps you with its novel planning software

Having a story in mind to write is unfortunately not enough to create a good story.
You have to rearrange the ideas, create the characters, a structure, and actions that define the narrative.
That’s why it’s essential to use effective tools like those in bibisco.


bibisco has innovative novel planning software and keyword planning software to structure your narrative, applying the best narrative techniques to your story.

Narrative Techniques Series #15: Predestination paradox- bibisco's Timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s characters’ section

Conclusions

Time travel is the dream of many. It’s something that’s allowed in books and movies, with fantasy, and allows for the movement of action.

The Predestination paradox technique implies that the protagonist, or the time traveler, is faced with a series of events that will inevitably cause them to have to travel into the past.

However, time travel brings inevitable consequences, to which the protagonist must pay attention in order not to change the course of events.

Narrative Techniques Series: #14 Narrative Hook

Narrative Techniques Series: #14 Narrative Hook

Have you ever started reading a book that got you so hooked that you couldn’t stop?

In this case, it’s the Narrative Hook, a narrative technique that we explain today in this Narrative Technique Series article.

What is the Narrative Technique of the Hook?

The Narrative Technique of the Hook consists of the story opening that captures, or hooks, readers’ attention, so they will keep reading.

Usually, it’s the first sentence, the opening of a story, that “hooks” the reader’s attention, so they keep reading. It’s a similar technique to the one you find at the beginning of this article.

A good hook will draw readers in, usually by throwing them into the middle of the action or generating curiosity around an intriguing character, an unusual situation, or an important question. Capturing the interest and imagination of those reading within a few lines is critical and can mean the difference between publication and rejection.

Types of Narrative Hook

In a narration, there can be many hooks to create.

  • The title of the story: you can hook your reader even before the first sentence. The title is a mini hook which represents an opportunity to grab the readers’ attention.
  • The middle of the action: drag your readers into the action. A classic strategy is to start with an action event. In literary terms, beginning in the middle of a narrative recalls another similar technique, “in medias res“, largely explained in the Narrative Technique Series.
  • Make a surprising statement: start your story with a controversial, unexpected, disturbing statement. This will immediately ignite curiosity and encourage your audience to keep reading.
  • Avoid long descriptive passages: you don’t need to explain every little thing to the reader. On the contrary, leaving some questions unanswered will build suspense, and you can fill in the details later.

Most techniques for writing a compelling hook have one thing in common. They force the reader to ask questions. A good hook uses action, emotion, intriguing statements to get the reader to question motivations, backstory, and more. It creates a scene that causes the reader to ask questions and then seek answers by continuing to read.

Some examples of Hook

A very well-known example of the use of the Narrative Hook is Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis“.
The story begins with the protagonist waking up one morning to find himself transformed into a large insect. How is this possible? What must have happened to him? What will he do now?

These questions intrinsic to the story prompt the reader to continue reading to find the answers.

In the same way, also in cinema, the Narrative Hook is used.

The movie Star Wars, for example, begins with a space battle in which one large ship pursues another, blasting it with lasers. This battle immediately grabs the audience’s attention and makes them want to know what events led up to this moment.

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man And The Sea.

Which narrative technique is right for your story?

Figuring out what narrative technique to use in a story is not easy. You have to have in mind the story, what tone you want to give to the narrative, the type of story, who the characters are, and focus on the details that always make a difference.

bibisco, thanks to its innovative novel planning software, will help you find the technique that best suits your needs and adapt it to the story.

Your reader will never be able to stop reading!

Narrative Techniques Series #14: Narrative Hook- bibisco's chapter section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapter section

Conclusions

The Narrative Hook is a real “hook” or rather a gimmick that hooks the reader’s attention.
It’s a technique that creates a story out of an unexplained situation and insinuates questions into the readers’ minds. These questions are what keep them curious and prompt them to continue reading.

Narrative Techniques Series: #13 Frame Story and Framing Device

Narrative Techniques Series: #13 Frame Story and Framing Device

In this new article dedicated to Narrative Techniques Series, we address Frame Story and Framing Device Narrative Techniques. They are different from each other and somehow intertwined.

It is not a simple link between the various events told in a story. A “frame” encloses the facts and stories of the narrative.

What are the Narrative Techniques of Frame Story and Framing Device?

Frame Story is a story that takes place in a novel, or in a movie. It is narrated by the main character, the writer itself as a narrating voice, or a support one. Usually, it starts with one character who tells a story to others. It can also start writing it down and then the narration begins.

We can also this Narrative Technique “frame narration”.

On the contrary, Framing Device includes a single action, scene, event, setting, or any element of significance at the beginning and end of a narration. The use of this technique allows frame stories to exist.

Sometimes, the Framing Device is not used for any particular purpose. It is useful to create a context and give more relevance to the frame around the narrative. This ensures that the reader appreciates the story more.

The difference between the Frame Story and the Framing Device

To better explain what the difference between the Frame Story and the Framing Device consists of, we take a famous example like the “Decameron” of Boccaccio.

This novel includes a hundred novellas inserted in the novel as a Frame Story. It is a sort of super-story that narrates the story of a “brigade” of ten young men who, having met in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence during the plague of 1348, decide to leave together for a villa in the nearby countryside.

Here they can recuperate for fifteen days from the mourning caused by the epidemic by leading a secluded life, dedicated to various occupations and amusements.

To pass the time during the day, they decided to take turns in telling each other those one hundred novellas. Later re-told in the book called Decameron.

This Frame Story is, however, then framed by a further space in which the author takes the floor directly to express his opinions about the work. This space is therefore not intended for narration, but rather for argumentation: this can be considered “outside the narration.”

“Since the beginning of the world men have been and will be, until the end thereof, bandied about by various shifts of fortune”

Giovanni Boccaccio

Examples of Frame Story and Framing Device in movies

In Christopher Nolan’s movie “Inception“, the main character Leonardo DiCaprio enters a dream of Mr. Murphy to add an idea to his subconscious. To achieve that, Cobb performed by DiCaprio, puts Mr. Murphy to sleep in his dream, creating a second layer of the dream.

These two Narrative Techniques allow creating different narrative levels.

The same thing happens in “Titanic“. Here, Rose, at her elderly age, starts to tell the story and the tragedy of the Titanic. The public finds themselves directly catapulted into the narrative that begins in 1912 and traces the days of Rose on the transatlantic. At the end of the narrative, the image returns to Rose, elderly, ending the story.

Write your story with bibisco’s novel planning software

Not even the most experienced writers find it easy while writing a novel. There are many aspects to pay attention to, and there are just as many techniques, as we’ve seen in this Narrative Techniques Series.

Thanks to bibisco and its innovative novel planning software you will be able to rearrange all the elements necessary to create the story you have in mind without neglecting the most important aspect: intriguing and attracting your reader.

Narrative Techniques Series #13: Frame Story and Framing Device- bibisco's architecture section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s architecture section

Conclusions

In the landscape of narrative techniques, there are some that are better known and some that are less so. Some that you have even read or seen before but never paid attention to.

This could be the case with the Frame Story and Framing Device: we talked about it in this Narrative Techniques Series article. They are two expedients widely used but not so known on a technical level. However, they are very useful to use to make the narrative stand out from the others.

Narrative Techniques Series: #12 Cliffhanger

Narrative Techniques Series: #12 Cliffhanger

Do you know how when you’re reading a book, the chapter ends with such a suspenseful ending that you can’t stop reading? The same thing happens in cinema, in some movies, and especially in some TV series.

In this article of our Narrative Techniques Series, we’re learning something new about the Cliffhanger technique.

What is the Narrative Technique of Cliffhanger?

The Narrative Technique of Cliffhanger is usually used at the end of a chapter, or of an episode in the case of a TV series.

Its goal is to create a plot twist or to interrupt the action, so the scene can be carried on in the next chapter.

But what is the real objective of interrupting a scene? It is to stop the narration at the highest point of tension and then to end the chapter or the scene. This creates a lot of expectation and forces the reader to keep on reading the story.

The apex of a story is also called in jargon “climax” and it corresponds with the peak of the scene. The Narrative Technique of Cliffhanger leads the reader from a starting point to this particular moment.

This is a crescendo of feelings.

How to use the Cliffhanger

To have the desired effect of this technique, you must know how to use it wisely and carefully.

The intent is not to torture the reader with lots of information and too many twists and turns. If you insert cliffhangers that lead to disconnected climaxes that don’t change the story, it does no good. On the contrary, the consequences of these twists and turns should always be tangible and easily understood.

Some examples of Cliffhanger technique

You can realize the Cliffhanger Technique in different ways.

For example, with jumps in setting or timing. This creates movement in the narrative.

Alternatively, by creating danger or conflict between the protagonists or with other characters. Even a trap, a chase, the death of one of the protagonists, a threat are all good examples of using this narrative technique.

Finally, the cliffhanger can be created by playing with the protagonist’s feelings. You can tell about how his attitude changes, how his ideals change, an inner conflict.

In the cinema, think about “Harry Potter and the deathly hallows-part I“. This already makes the viewer think there will be a part II, which they will look forward to.

In literature, however, we have the example of Cliffhanger in the “Tales of The Thousand and One Nights“. Here, each story told by Sherazade to King Shahryār ends with a narrative suspension to save herself from execution.

Each book will have a lot of cliffhangers, because I like that.

Kevin J. Anderson

Use bibisco and its innovative novel planning software to create your Cliffhanger

With bibisconovel planning software, you can easily understand how to structure your story.

You have the possibility to think about the highest moment of tension in your story, the climax one, and to lead the reader up to this point. You have just to use the Cliffhanger technique seen in this episode of the Narrative Techniques Series.

Narrative Techniques Series #13: Cliffhanger - bibisco's project explorer - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s project explorer

Conclusion

Creating twists and turns in the story doesn’t seem to be a difficult task. Instead, it must be done with some care to avoid the cliffhanger technique, the one that leads the reader or viewer to the climax, that is, the maximum point of tension, leading to confusion and disorientation.

The cliffhanger must lead to a major change in the story and get the reader so involved that they continues reading in one breath.

Narrative Techniques Series: #11 Ticking Time Bomb

Narrative Techniques Series: #11 Ticking Time Bomb

Ten, nine, eight… and your heart begin to accelerate.

This is the eleventh of our Narrative Techniques Series: the Ticking Time Bomb scenario. The Ticking Time Bomb scenario and the countdown coincide, and they have the same result. The reader is really involved, and it is not possible to stop the reading in this situation.

What is the Narrative Technique of the Ticking time bomb scenario?

One of the most important supporters of the flow of time was Aristotle. He was really aware of the power of time. He deeply studied the structure of narration. And he noticed that stories with a very short time were more impressive than others.

For instance, Sophocles in his play “Oedipus Rex” decided to compress the time to put some pressure on the character of the narration.

The Ticking Time Bomb scenario is that, a sort of countdown which has a profound meaning to the character and which can raise a condition of apprehension both in characters and readers.

The Narrative Technique of Ticking time bomb scenario: how to use it?

Not every Ticking Time Bomb scenario needs to involve a real clock or a bomb. There are several objects that a writer can use just to put pressure and to describe the fast passing of time.

Think about a car running out of gas. This simple situation does not represent a real countdown, but it is clear to everyone that this is a point of no return.

In the same way, the Ticking Time Bomb scenario does not always interest an object, but just a situation. When a character’s life is in danger, this could be an example of the Ticking Time Bomb scenario without any objects.

Let’s take the example of the film “Titanic“. When we see Jack and Rose in the water, we know that they are in danger and that they are risking their lives because of the frozen water of the Ocean.

Another great film using this Technique is “In Time“. In this world, people use their time as a form of barter instead of money. But when they run out of time, their life also ends.

What is the role of the Narrative Technique of Ticking Time Bomb scenario?

The main purpose of this technique is to surprise the reader. This involves a situation where the character does not know what will happen, and he has to find out a solution soon.

Readers have no certainty that everything will work out, and they follow the events of characters with interest, curiosity and some concern.

This technique has to do, in a broader way, with the feeling of the unknown and of something that we cannot immediately control. The protagonist must then find, in a few moments, the solution.

Meanwhile, the reader follows with extreme interest and involvement the logic of the character who finds himself thinking in a short time and acting.

The death clock is ticking slowly in our breast, and each drop of blood measures its time, and our life is a lingering fever.

George Buchner

bibisco and the use of the Narrative Techniques

When you create a narration, there are many techniques you can mix and use. But you have also to pay attention to overdo it, not to confuse your reader.

bibisco and its innovative novel writing and novel planning software can help you to establish how many narrative techniques you can use in your narration and also how to mix them.

Narrative Techniques Series #11: Time Ticking Bomb scenario- bibisco's Objects Analysis - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s Objects Analysis

Conclusions

The Ticking Time Bomb scenario is one of the most powerful narrative technique to put pressure on a character and that involve the reader the most.

It does not necessarily have to do with the ticking of a bomb, a clock, or a countdown. It can be realized in many ways and bibisco will help you in this hard task.

Did you miss the insights into other narrative techniques? Go back to our Narrative Techniques Series to catch up on your reading and enrich your writing with techniques such as theTicking Time Bomb!