From Within the Mind: Ambiguity

In honor of the three months since An Absolute Mind came out, this month, I shall be doing a weekly series of behind-the-scenes glimpses at the process and the decisions made with the creation of the novel. Be careful for potential spoilers if you haven’t read it yet, and I hope you enjoy.

Perhaps it’s the urgency within the mind of a reader or any consumer of storytelling to know every single answer and detail possible when it comes to the plot, especially as it thickens. Maybe its the Western way of thinking to not leave any stone un-turned. Well, within the last few years, both as a writer and a reader, I beg to differ. I think ambiguity within a story can be just a powerful than a long delayed discovery.

Ambiguity was a technique I was using even when writing my first novel, A Moment’s Worth. However, it didn’t consciously dawn on me I was using such a technique until about six months before its release, just as I was discovering Haruki Murakami’s work. For those who are familiar with his writings, he has a tendency to leave just as many questions than answers when it comes to the conflicts and circumstances his characters wind up in. The funny thing is, his practice of doing so doesn’t take away from the story, but quite the contrary; it adds an aura of mystery to them. It’s one of many reasons why he is so renowned even outside his native country of Japan.

The way I interpret the use of ambiguity in a story might be different from others, so don’t depend on me for having the “right” answer. Apart from adding an aura of mystery, ambiguity can be an effective tool in guiding the audience in gaining the kind of meaning you want them to gain, and not so much what they want. It’s a way of writing for yourself, while still writing with an audience in mind.

I also see ambiguity as a way of challenging the audience; to show that it’s not always necessary to show or explain every single detail. It’s like saying, “If I told you, would it really make that much difference to you in the end?” Contrary to J.K. Rowling’s method of knowing the answer for every little detail in the Harry Potter universe, I believe that sometimes, it’s wise to leave things open-ended.

My subconscious execution of using ambiguity in A Moment’s Worth was effective, especially since that novel was structurally experimental. But with An Absolute Mind, I approached it being more knowledgeable about using ambiguity in storytelling, and I knew I wanted to use this mechanism in this book too. I just had to be cautious as to when and how I would use it, especially since this novel had the more traditional structure of a beginning, middle, and end. That’s the only risk when using ambiguity in a story; it can be used incorrectly or at the wrong time.

Fortunately, once I pinpointed the places as to where I wanted to use it, it all came together and it worked (and this is where the SPOILERS start to kick in). There’s a reason why I never revealed what happened to Amelia Earhart, for by that point in the era the novel is set in, it’s already common knowledge. I never had Ian take action against the government the way Sonya wound up doing, for he already knew looking ahead that that was not his role in this fight. Sonya decided on a major by the end of the story, but I never revealed it due to wanting to show her change in mindset when compared to how she was in the beginning.

Ambiguity is a unique technique in storytelling that I very much intend to use in future works. The way I used it in An Absolute Mind was to keep the audience focused on what I want them to focus on. After all, who’s to say you have to have an answer for everything? Sometimes mystery is important.

An Absolute Mind is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & NobleCreateSpace, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. If you read it, please leave a review, for they’re greatly appreciated and help me grow as a writer. Also, be sure to check out its Goodreads page, and feel free to leave any questions you have about the book.

Also, if you can, please donate to the Indiegogo campaign for “The Geek Show,” for we the cast and creators want it to be the very best when we put it on in April.

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