Sue Howe is a prolific flasher. And she’s really good at what she does. Here, she considers the key to balanced ambiguity – how much to give away? How strong should those clues be? Oh, and while you’re there spend a few hours devouring Sue’s shorts for a masterclass in making sure every word counts.
I recently posted a new flash story of 500 words in my online writers’ group and received a number of critiques. These ranged as ever from ‘I really liked this! Perfectly judged,’ to (more or less) ‘I don’t really get it’. This is very much the nature of writers’ groups and is often an indication of the writing styles of other members rather than their ability to offer constructive criticism, but it led me to ponder the issue of ambiguity in fiction.
I love an unreliable narrator – it’s my favourite thing, both to read and to create (see Crossed Lines, Mother’s Pride etc). While it must be quite hard to keep it going over the course of a novel (I’m currently reading Gone Girl and am finding the clues a bit heavy-handed. Check out The Dinner by Herman Koch for one of the best examples) it is relatively easy…
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