Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Friday, 10 June 2011

J is for Jack In The Box

The twist in the tale: that elusive style of story that can be difficult to pull off. Read any of the women's magazine fiction and you'll see how popular they are. There are some really, really good ones that leave you gasping 'Ah! So that's what it was/who it was.' But done sloppily they can leave you thinking, 'eh?'

The trick is to leave subtle clues throughout the story so when the reader gets to the end they can look back and see that the answers were there all along. What you don't want to do is for the conclusion to be contrived or to bop the reader on the nose out of nowhere. The importance is in what you don't say, rather than what you do. Allow the reader to fill in the gaps.

This is one style of story that I would suggest you really do need to plan. You need to know your start point and where you are heading, whilst knowing how your characters are going to get there. And remember to leave clues along the way, signposts that gently steer the reader where you want them to go. It's a fine balance to make but you have to make sure that the clues you leave aren't so subtle that the reader misses them completely, or too in their face that they guess the ending without having to read to the end of the story.

I love trying to guess the end of the story in this style of story but I find it so disappointing when I succeed. For a reader, the brilliance in these stories is not having a clue how it's going to pan out until the ending comes, then you can back and find the clues - heavenly satisfying. They are the kind of stories that make you sigh, 'I wish I could write like that.' Well you can - if you put your mind to it.

Don't be a Jack In The Box writer by staging a ninja attack on your reader. No-one likes too much of a surprise or to be left feeling confused after reading your story. Subtlety and careful planning are the order of the day to leave your reader satisfied.

Happy twisting!

Julie xx


Diane Fordham said...

Excellent post Julie. I really enjoyed it. Love the twist stories - enjoy reading them and enjoy the challenge of writing them! x

Bluestocking Mum said...

Great food for thought there, Julie. I'm slaving over my current WIP and there are quite a few twists and turns and I'm trying very hard to be subtle about clues.


Julie P said...

Hi, Diane
Thank you!

I just wish I could write them as well as the ones that get publish! Will have to practise, practise, practise!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

It's a difficult balance to strike, isn't it, Blue Stocking, Mum? Hard, hard, hard work - but worth it in the end!

Good look with youe WIP.

Julie xx

womagwriter said...

This is a great series of posts - I'll link to it!

Must admit I haven't been to your blog for a bit. For some reason (think it's the slideshow) your blog takes minutes to load on my laptop and locks everything up in the process.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Womag

I'll get rid of the slideshow - I think it's what's slowing me up when I get on here as well!

The posts were just a whim I had!I thought it might be fun to look at what helps a writer to write and what hinders us and how we might get over that all wrapped up in a handy A-Z! Might have difficulty when I get to Z,though!

Julie xx

Julie P said...
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