Deus ex machina

Blogging is a form of  story telling. Every entry stands alone and has a narrative arc. The beginning sets the subject. The middle is where it builds to a climax of some sort, and the ending is the pulling together of the strands to form a conclusion – and they all lived happily ever after.

As a writer, I find endings the hardest. It’s a common problem. Many works of modern fiction have gripping beginnings and then start to flag. By the end, a story which started at a run is barely able to lollop.  The tying up of loose ends feels more like a process than a new stage in the adventure.

Children exemplify this obstacle in their writing. They build fantastic fantasies on the page and then get stuck. How often have you got to the end of a magnificent series of imaginings by a seven or eight or nine -year-old and found words to the effect – and then she woke up and it was all a dream. They are experiencing the professional writers’ nightmare!

A common phrase used for this phenomenon is deus ex machina. In the ancient world, this referred to a theatrical device – the appearance of a God with a divine solution at the end of a drama. In literary criticism it means taking the easy way out – ending a story conveniently rather than convincingly.

Short stories, however, are different. Unlike long form fiction, they don’t require conclusions. Few stories we’ll look at in Tricycle Readers end the standard way. Short stories are often open-ended: the capturing of a moment in time. The reader has to turn detective, scouring the text for clues that enable deduction. How might the characters have developed, or the storyline progressed?

Blogs are factual or thought-led short stories.  Some blogs – particularly those building up a head of steam on an issue, a project or a product – don’t have open endings, but many are inviting, or engaging in, an ongoing conversation. Like the writer of the short story, the blogger leaves the reader to find and develop meaning from their texts. The power is with you.

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