Tag: narrative techniques

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


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


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


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!

Narrative Techniques Series: #10 Quibble

Narrative Techniques Series: #10 Quibble

The Technique we write about today in our Narrative Techniques Series is Quibble, a way to escape. The Quibble is also a trick, a stratagem that a character can use to get away from a particular situation.

In specific terms, it occurs when the plot device is based on an agreement. It usually has not a legal value, it can be also oral. The character can escape it thanks to the literal words specified in it.

What is the Narrative Technique of Quibble?

As we have already said, this Narrative Technique is used to solve but also to create a dilemma in the story.

It often implies the way in which certain words in the contract are used to find a way out.

In other words, we can think that the Quibble is a flaw in an agreement that allows someone to get out of that agreement itself.

The main function of the Narrative Techniques of Quibble

The function of the Narrative Technique of Quibble is to liven up the plot and to keep the reader, or viewer, in suspense.

It is therefore part of one of the many narrative devices to create some movement and unexpectedness within the narrative.

Narrative Techniques of Quibble: some examples

First of all in The Lord of the Rings: the prophecy of the elf Glorfindel says that the Witch-King of Angmar “not by the hand of man shall he fall“. In fact, is Éowyn, an elf woman, to kill him during the battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Another example is Disney’s Aladdin. The main character, Aladdin, suggests to the villain Jafar to be turned into a genie. He knew that this would imprison him inside the magic lamp for eternity.

Besides that, in Harry Potter, J.K.Rowling uses the Narrative Technique of the Quibble to describe the scene in which Dobby, the elf of the Malfoy family, is freed. Harry Potter, in fact, puts one of his socks inside a book that Lucius Malfoy gives to Dobby, making him a free elf.

As seen, these are all examples of contractual quibbles. They are non-implicit ones and they all have the function to twist the plot.

Twas a clever quibble. Here, a garment for it

William Shakespeare

bibisco helps you to add the Narrative Technique of Quibble to your story

As another type of narrative technique, also Quibble is not easy to use and to insert in your narration. The main difficulty is to find the right “quibble” useful to twist the plot and surprise the reader.

bibisco has an innovative instrument as the novel planning software, very useful to create an original story.

Narrative Techniques Series #10: Quibble - bibisco's architecture section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s architecture section


Quibble has the role to turn the plot unexpectedly. With this Narrative Technique, the writer can find a solution also when there is no way to escape to an inevitable end.

It is a narrative technique particularly used in fantasy and which requires great care in its use to avoid confusing the reader’s ideas.

Keep readingour Narrative Technique Series to learn more about Narrative Techniques like Quibble!

Narrative Techniques Series: #9 Plot twist

Narrative Techniques Series: #9 Plot twist

Do you know that moment when the plot of a book or a film keeps you in suspense? That is the plot twist, described in this ninth episode of the narrative techniquesseries.

The plot twist is the moment when something happens that you didn’t expect in any way.

The writer can often use plot twist in crime novels, but even in another type of narration to reveal to the reader a situation, or a truth, in an entirely new and surprising way.

What is the Narrative Technique of the Plot twist?

Plot twists are unexpected and sudden turns in the narration. It diverts the plot from its trajectory, giving new insights into events or characters, or overturns the perspective.

Their purpose is to surprise, increase tension and revive interest in the story. This narrative technique helps the writer to catch the reader’s attention and leads him to continue reading in one go.

Moreover, it must surprise the reader and make them ‘jump on the chair’ with an unexpected and unpredictable event. Therefore, to create a suitably strong one, it is necessary to keep important information hidden from the reader which we will then reveal in a single moment. The more unexpected the event is, the more the writer has been clever in hiding it from the reader, the better the desired twist will succeed.

The narrative technique of “Chekhov’s gun could be a very useful element to use in the narration to introduce something that foreshadows what will happen in the future.

For instance, think about Agatha Christie stories. During all their length, she misleads readers with erroneous suspicions, hiding the really useful clues with many details which have the sole purpose of confusing them.

What is the difference between suspense and the Plot twist?

As we have already said, a Plot twist is a narrative technique that leaves the reader breathless.

On the contrary, the suspense arises when the reader has all the useful information within a scene, greater even than that possessed by the characters themselves.

Often, the writer gives the reader even more information than the characters themselves have.

Plot twist and twist ending

The plot twist can have two different meanings.

It can be placed in strategic positions, allowing the writer to control the pace of the narrative and adapt it to the readers’ expectations.

If it is placed at the end of the story, it is called a twist ending.

It all depends on the result you want to have in your story.

The impossible could not have happened, and therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

-Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)-

The innovative writing software of bibisco to use the narrative technique of the Plot twist

Plot twist or twist ending? How many details to give to the reader and what kind of plot twist to create?

There are many questions to answer before introducing this narrative technique in your narration.

Fortunately, the novel writing software of bibisco can help in this difficult task.

bibisco will lead you to rearrange your ideas and create the plot twist that best suits your story.

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


Whether you are writing a crime novel or not, you can use the narrative technique of plot twist to create more interest in your story, asnarrative techniquesseries. Your reader will be so captivated by the plot that they will not be able to close the book without finishing it.

There are many ways to realize a plot twist, and we will widely speak of them in the next articles of this Narrative Techniques Series.

Narrative Techniques Series: #8 In medias res

Narrative Techniques Series: #8 In medias res

The 8th episode of the narrative techniques series is about In medias res: it concerns the narration starting from the middle of the story.

In medias res literally means “in the middle of the topic”. It was coined by Orace (65 – 8 a.C.) in his Ars Poetica.

A narration that starts in medias res catapults us directly into the heart of the story. This Narrative Technique is the opposite of the ab ovo one, which considers starting the narration from the very beginning.

What is the Narrative Technique ofIn medias res?

The beginning of narration is one of the most important steps. It must not bore the readers but attract their attention.

So, by using this narrative technique, the writer decides not to follow the course of the events in a chronological way, but to play with the story moving the narration pieces depending on the effect he wants to give to his story.

A narration that begins in medias res is obviously more engaging than a classical one as “Once upon a time…”.

It causes an immediate interest in the readers and spurs them to go on in the reading to better understand what the writer is writing about.

How to use the In medias res Narrative Technique

This narrative technique goes well with the flashback one. Therefore, it involves using the blocks of the story to create a part of the narration and to report them through the flashback technique. Thanks to this we, as readers, learn something more about the origin, the characters, and the main conflict of the story.

In medias res is often used in thriller narration. A dead body is discovered and here the reader has to find out who the criminal is.

In medias res Narrative Technique: some examples

Many books start with this Narrative Technique. One of them, one of the most famous, is the Iliad of Homer. For instance, already from the first lines, it drags us on the battlefield between pain and corps, left at the mercy of dogs and raptors.

Similarly, in cinema, there are a lot of examples of In medias res. Think about the series How to get away with murder. Every season of this TV series starts with a crime and with a dead body. During the episodes, the spectator understands a little more about the story and what happened.

bibisco’s novel writing software helps you to create your story

A writer can decide to start a narration from the end, from the middle, or the beginning of the story. This choice is fundamental because prompts the reader or the viewer to continue the narration.

bibisco has some very useful tools. Its innovative novel planning software allows you to create your story using the Narrative Technique In medias res.

Narrative Techniques Series: In media res - bibisco's chapters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s chapters’ section


In our Narrative Techniques Series, we explore techniques that help the writer to arouse an interest in the reader from the beginning: In medias res is one of the more efficient techniques to achieve this goal.

Keep going on our narrative journey and read the next article to find out what’s the next storytelling technique you can use to create a unique and breathtaking story.

Narrative Techniques Series: #7 Foreshadowing

Narrative Techniques Series: #7 Foreshadowing

We reached the 7th Narrative Technique between our Narrative Techniques Series: Foreshadowing.

This Technique consists of showing something that anticipates or foreshadows an event. For example, let’s think of a narration that begins with a male character who has to break up a schoolyard fight among some boys vying for a girl’s attention.

Next, she introduces foreshadowing the events leading to a dinner-time dispute between the character and his twin brother over her, whom both are courting simultaneously.

What is the Narrative Technique of Foreshadowing?

The Narrative Technique of Foreshadowing is nothing more than a hint of something that will come or be used later in the plot. For instance, the object or the ability needed by the character to succeed in such a situation. Imagine if the writer didn’t use this at the beginning of the story. As readers, we might encounter a complicated situation that the protagonist inexplicably solves easily. It will leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths.

According to the playwright Anton Chekhov, if a gun appears in a novel, it must fire. This concept in narration is Chekhov’s gun. We can link his statement to the technique of foreshadowing. If you missed the in-depth article on Chekhov’s gun, you could find it here.

The narrative technique of foreshadowing makes it possible to effectively and credibly insert, in advance, the elements necessary for the development of the narrative. This avoids the feeling of dissatisfaction we have just talked about and, on the contrary, creates suspense, intrigue, and mystery.

How to introduce the Narrative Technique of Foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing can be a cryptic dialogue between two characters who have yet to make their move. It could be a brief scene of a villain plotting behind the scenes, something unclear. It could be even a very simple cameo.

As with all the narrative techniques we have written about, foreshadowing also applies to the rule of not overdoing it. The risk is, as always, to confuse our reader or viewer.

Foreshadowing: a Narrative Technique in the Cinema

Think of the film 13 going to 30 starring Jennifer Garner. One of the first scenes shows Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner). She is a successful 30-year-old and what led her to become that way.

Another obvious example is the technological gadgets presented to James Bond at the beginning of the film. Right from the start, we know that they will be crucial in saving the protagonist from a desperate situation.

One of the directors who make the most extensive use of the narrative techniques mentioned so far, including Foreshadowing, is Christopher Nolan.

In his film “The Prestige“, for example, and without spoilers, events are foreshadowed at the beginning. They will serve to close the film. Even though they are situations that have already been seen and understood, the feeling of surprise and the twist at the end of his films is always just around the corner.

Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.

The Prestige (2006)

Use bibisco’s novel writing software to build your original story

To include a particular Narrative Technique such as Foreshadowing, it is necessary to be clear about the development of the narrative. Otherwise, it may be challenging to retain the anticipation of events naturally without confusing the reader.

With bibisco’s innovative and modern novel writing software, you can decide in advance what the outline of your narrative is. In this way, inserting the Foreshadowing Narrative Technique will be easier and more natural and will leave your reader or viewer speechless!

Narrative Techniques Series: #7 Foreshadowing- bibisco's architecture and narrative strand - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s architecture and narrative strand


Foreshadowing is certainly one of the most interesting in our Narrative Techniques Series. Read or seen for the first time, if well used; it is meant to leave a sense of wonder in the reader.

Seen a second time, it allows one to understand what the dynamics of the narrative are full. Moreover, knowing how the narrative develops, you can concentrate more on the feelings of the protagonists.

Narrative Techniques Series: #6 Flashforward

Narrative Techniques Series: #6 Flashforward

In our Narrative Techniques Series, we already talk about the Flashback narrative technique. Today it is the turn of the Flashforward narrative technique.

Flashback and flashforward are two narrative techniques that concern the timing of the narrative.

In particular, Flashback allows us to jump into the past during the course of a story. On the other hand, Flashforward is the opposite.

Let’s see it together in detail.

What is the Narrative Technique of Flashforward?

This Narrative Technique of Flashforward, also called prolepsis, shows a scene that temporarily jumps the narrative forward in time.

Flashforwards often represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail.

In a narrative text, it is a scene that interrupts the chronological sequence of facts. The main purpose is to anticipate events that belong to the continuation of the story. This technique allows a leap in time and gives more rhythm to the story, creating suspense and high expectations.

It is important to think that this narrative technique should always help in the construction of the plot of the narrative. If you use this technique taken out of the story and out of context, you risk confusing the reader or the viewer.

Flashforward: some examples of use in literature and cinema

In both literature and film, this technique is used very often. This technique occurs in A Christmas Carol when Mr. Scrooge visits the ghost of the future.

In the Back to the Future saga the director Robert Zemeckis plays a lot with this narrative technique, especially in the second chapter of the trilogy, where Marty McFly finds himself projected into the then distant 2015.

It is also frequent in the later seasons of the television series Lost. Think about the series This is us where already in the first episodes we know that something has happened to the dad of the three main characters.

Introduce the Flashforward technique in your story with the innovative bibisco’s novel writing software

As anticipated, the flashforward technique also plays a lot with the narrative time. However, in order not to confuse the reader or detach him too much from the story, it is useful to follow a logical thread.

Bibisco and its writing and planning software can help you with this.

Use its advanced functions, like the Timeline, to figure out which narrative fabric to give to the story.

Narrative Techniques Series #6: Flashforward - bibisco's Timelin - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s Timeline

Conclusions about the narrative technique of FlashForward

The use of certain narrative techniques, such as flashforward, allows the reader to anticipate facts, events, and situations that capture his or her attention and encourage him or her to continue reading.

It is that surprising element that often manages to make many viewers fall in love with a film, or readers of a book.

If you want to know more about the management of time in the novel, take a look also at the previous posts of the Narratives Techniques Series about Flashback and Backstory.

Narrative Techniques Series: #5 Flashback

Narrative Techniques Series: #5 Flashback

We move on into our journey between the narrative techniques series: the Flashback.

This technique is one of the most known in the narrative.

It is also called analepsis or retrospection the narrative technique of the flashback rewinds the structure of the narration.

It creates an alteration in the time sequences. Flashback takes characters or things back to the beginning of the story, to give more details about the narration or its characters.

What is the Narrative Technique ofFlashback?

This narrative technique allows the writer to show facts that happened before a particular moment in the narration.

In addition, it also allows filling the gaps in the information the reader has about some crucial facts. For instance, a flashback on the origins of a character shows the viewer the key elements that contributed to their development during their growing years.

Further, it is also useful to create that sense of suspense and better know the behavior and habits of a character by giving more information about him.

To sum up, this is a useful technique to create the so-called “plot twist“.

Be careful to use it. Flashback, if carelessly used, could confuse the reader and create a complication in the plot. The important thing to always keep in mind is to be persistent and consistent with the narration.

The function of the flashback is Freudian…You have to let them wander like the imagination or like a dream.

Sergio Leone

Examples of the narrative technique of flashback

One of the most famous and important examples of flashbacks is in the “Odyssey“. Ulysses tells his past vicissitudes at the court of Alcinoo, king of the Phaeacians.

In a more recent narrative opera, Harry Potter, the writer J.K. Rowling introduces the “Pensieve Memory“. It’s an object that Silente can use to put in his memories and to relive them in a second moment. These memories are all represented as flashbacks.

Create your story with bibisco’s novel writing software

As we said, the flashback has to be used carefully to not confuse the reader. With the innovative novel writing software of bibisco, you can easily create your narration, or chapters, take notes.

You can decide to use this technique, or also other techniques congenial to the plot of your story.

Narrative Techniques Series: #5 Flashback -  bibisco's architecture of the novel & narrative strands - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software


The narrative technique of the flashback allows introducing many details about the story.

The reader can better understand the relationship between a character and the background, the motivations and perspective of a character.

Subsequently, the writer interrupts the chronological and linear order of a narrative to introduce more depth and complexity to the story. And again, he can create surprise or suspense.

Think about one of this element and try to apply in your narration.

Do you need other advice about how to write your story? See these articles of our narrative techniques series and find your inspiration!

Narrative Techniques Series #4: Deus ex machina

Narrative Techniques Series #4: Deus ex machina

Many times we read this particular term but do you know its real meaning? We also already found the narrative technique Deus ex machina in many stories. It is an ancient Latin expression. It indicates an act of god and which literally means “god out of the machine”.

This term derives from the Greek tragedy. It concerned when a character, at the end of the narration, came on the scene to solve a situation that initially seemed very difficult to overcome, or even without a solution.

This unexpected character seemed a God able to suddenly solved the problem, who came onto the stage by a crane (called in Greek “mechané“). From here, the expression Deus ex machina.

In our articles about the narrative techniques series we also find the Deus ex machina. Nowadays, the narrative techniques Deus ex machina is used in the cinema and in many novels.

What is the Narrative Technique of Deus ex machina?

The narrative technique Deus ex machina does not only concerns a character but also any solution and event that solve a problem and happen without an effective explanation.

To use this kind of narrative technique we must not anticipate the entry of a particular character or the occurrence of a situation.

We can speak about the narrative technique Deus ex machina when something happens unexpectedly.

Is it better to use or to avoid the Deus ex machina narrative technique?

The audience does not love so much this technique. Frequently people find frustrating to not really understand why a particular solution is adopted to a situation.

Actually, it seems to be a real scam against the reader. Solving a situation with a Deus ex machina means breaking the credibility of the story. It is like to declare that the fears about the fate of the protagonist do not matter. In fact, an external intervention can solve everything.

At this point, the reader may ask himself some questions. If the writer uses the Deus ex machina narrative technique at the end of the story, why he doesn’t use it at the beginning?

What is the real point of telling this story?

Besides this, the Deus ex machina narrative technique diminishes the role of the protagonist and, often, of his allies. He is not the one who actively intervenes and saves the day but passively witnesses an external resolution. His journey, struggle, and experience are useless because he is not the one who will define events. Instead, it is in the moments of greatest difficulty that the protagonist should shine.

In conclusion, therefore, one must avoid running into the Deus ex machina. Instead, we must seek a resolution consistent with the plot and consequential to the narration; even better if the protagonist himself intervenes.

Use bibisco’s novel writing software to create your narration

The use of the narrative technique Deus ex machina depends on the writer’s taste and the aspect we want to give to the narrative.
With bibisco and its innovative writing and planning software, you can decide on the best option for your story.

Narrative Techniques Series: #4 Deus ex machina - 
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bibisco’s architecture of the novel & narrative strands

The narrative technique of Deus ex machina: some examples

One of the greatest directors to love and use this technique is Woody Allen. He did it in Match Point, as well as in his older film Mighty Aphrodite. In fact, without making spoilers, a character arrives by helicopter to resolve the situation.

In the third movie of The Return of the King of the Lord of the Rings series, the director uses this narrative technique. For example, in one scene in Minas Tirith, the ghosts recovered from the mountain suddenly appear and make a killing.

Sometimes this narrative technique is less visible, being less annoying. In other cases, it is more evident.

Moreover, in a second scene in Mordor, a convenient landslide opens up a chasm beneath the orcs and resolved the conflict.


The narrative technique Deus ex machina does not necessarily have to be a real go. It could be a man, an object. It could also be a strange case that happens to fix a narrative knot that cannot be unraveled in any other way.

The Deus ex machina remains an improbable expedient. Despite this, literature and theater continually use events that in real life would be practically impossible.

The Deus ex machina narrative technique certainly gives a value of unpredictability and mystery. In some cases might intrigue the reader, or the spectator, to the point that they remember the story they witnessed for a long time.

With the next post, we’ll move on into this wonderful journey of the narrative techniques series!