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What is a Quibble | Use and Examples in Narrative

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 reading our Narrative Technique Series to learn more about Narrative Techniques like Quibble!

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