What is narrative? The question lies at the heart of narrative approaches to research. The simplicity of the common response to this question, however, ‘a story with a beginning, a middle and an end’, with its implied coherence, veils significant tensions and ambiguities. This special edition brings together a range of papers from a recent conference that explored some of the uncertainty around the role of coherence in narrative and narrative research. The conference ‘Losing the Plot – Tangling with Narrative Complexity,’ held in Melbourne, in July, 2010 was inspired by a recent publication, Beyond Narrative Coherence (Hyvarinen, Hyden, Saarenheimo and Tamboukou, 2010). This present collection of papers is a response to these questions and ideas from an Australian perspective and it represents a range of disciplinary backgrounds including media and communication, creative writing and psychosocial studies.