Online internet courses by Call of the Page

Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address:
We will let you know more about these courses.

Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Haiku and The Reveal: A device to create surprises in a narrative

The Reveal:
A device to create surprises in a narrative.

Reveal (narrative)
The reveal (also known as the big reveal) is a plot device in narrative structure, and is the exposure to the reader or audience of a previously hidden key element of plot… 

This may result in a plot twist, and could be the key plot turn or unexpected coda in the story – in the mystery genre, for example.

The reveal is a “dropped as if from the sky” information that changes our understanding of a story, from what's happened so far and what will happen over time. It’s where you have to rethink what you thought was the entire story. 

It is not as easy as it reads, because it’s not a cheap gimmicky surprise ending that we witness, occasionally, in various genres: It has to resonate and maintain a tension as the reader unfolds for themselves all the “what might happen scenarios.” 

Just as in haiku, haibun can work really well by having a reveal, or partial reveal, if we can get the reader to want to move forward and fill in all the negative space/white space. If that happens we’ve succeeded in bringing one of the defining moments of great storytelling in our haiku (and haibun).

Alan Summers Friday 5th May 2017

A reveal is simply a moment where some previously unknown piece of information is presented to the audience. The reveal is reserved for a big, central piece of info that changes our understanding of the entire story, even what's happened so far. In all cases, after this reveal, you have to rethink the entire story. —James H. Kelly (August 2010)

You use "reveal" to mean "big twist," whereas I've always thought of it as smaller epiphanies that occur throughout a narrative. What happens, though, is that the writers end up playing cat and mouse games with different types of viewers: those who are already anticipating what the reveal would be based on the clues given and those who are more innocent and more likely to be surprised by "obvious" twists. —Nate Stearns (January 2011)

Here are some "smaller epiphanies":

another hot day
a leaking water pipe stopped
by the jackdaw’s beak

Alan Summers
Honourable Mention, 14th Mainichi Haiku Contest (Japan 2010)  

wild peppermint
a dock leaf shadow
clings to the bee

Alan Summers
The Basho Museum Memorial Anthology (2001)

down the sidewalk
an old vagrant
daisies in his mouth

Alan Summers
Hobo (Tasmania, 1999)
Issa's Untidy Hut (2011)

strong wind
the juggler's elbow catches
a pocket hanky

Alan Summers
Publication credits: BBC - Cumbrian haiku (2004)
Anthology: BHS members anthology: Other (2004)
Article: The Moon is Broken: Juxtaposition in haiku article Scope vol. 60 no. 3 (Fellowship of Australian Writers, Queensland,  April 2014)

Valentine’s Day
my wife reads up
on Henry VIII

Alan Summers
Magazine/Journal credits: Blithe Spirit vol. 20 no. 3 (2010)
Anthology credit:  The Humours of Haiku ISBN 978-0-9565725-4-7 (Iron Press 2012):

the sticky label
over the christmas card
the new boyfriend’s name

Alan Summers
Anthology credits: 
Raku Teapot: Haiku (Raku Teapot Press/White Owl Publishing, California 2003)
Collection: Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

sunday lunch
the chatter of children
among hard drinkers

Alan Summers
Editor’s Choice, Haiku Harvest  vol. 4  no. 1 (2003)
Favourites each fortnight’ on Serge Tome’s tempslibre 2002
Anthology: Haiku Harvest: 2000 – 2006 (Modern English Tanka Press 2007)

crowded street
the space
a dog’s deposit

Alan Summers
Publication credits: Presence 7 (1998); UKMO™ Collection (2004)
Collection: Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

fainter stars the bluebells shake out a morning

Alan Summers
Publication credit:  Sonic Boom, Issue Thirteen 2018
See about monoku:

shadows and first light chimney rooks

Alan Summers
Publication: Presence #62 (November 2018)

See about monoku:

baby teething––
somewhere further inside
the aftermath of war

Alan Summers
2018 British Haiku Society Members' Anthology: Wild ed. Andrew Shimield

1 comment:

Pris said...

This is an excellent post. The haiku you chose are so very good.