Ambiguous Portrait Series, Art by Tina Rice.

Ambiguous Portrait Series, Art by Tina Rice.

Join us on July 7, 2014 for MediaMonday in #LitChat to discuss Ambiguity–Art or Authorial Cop-Out. Follow #LitChat on Twitter, or login to our dedicated channel at

We’ve all read them. Novels that leave strings untied or close with opaque or with loose endings are commonly referred to as ambiguous. Some of these novels leave readers gasping to know whether the gun mentioned on page five was the same gun used for the murder on page 255. Must every single thread be neatly tied and trimmed in order for a novel to satisfy a reader?  In this Glimmer Train essay, author Celeste Ng makes a strong case for intentional ambiguity and explains the difference between this and what she calls authorial cop-out.

In almost every workshop, I have a student who sees ambiguity as a very bad thing, an authorial cop-out. This student wants every loose end tied up and every question definitively answered—possibly in a flash-forward epilogue that tells you exactly where everyone ends up and what everything means, summing up the story as neatly as the conclusion of a five-paragraph essay. I think this reaction is often a response not to ambiguity per se, but to ambiguity done badly.~Celeste Ng

In this week’s MediaMonday, we’ll discuss artful ambiguity and authorial cop-out; what is means to the reader; how writers can identify it in their work, and why it can give a work greater depth when done well.

Later This Week in #LitChat

The FeverEdgar-winning novelist Megan Abbot joins us to discuss her new novel, The Fever, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Megan is author of eight books.

Follow Megan Abbot on Twitter: @MeganEAbbot.