on Career Authors:
Not to bait-and-switch you, but authors don’t really want to “trick” readers—a tricked reader may get annoyed and not buy an author’s next book. Instead, novelists want to manipulate readers for the optimal narrative experience. They slyly set things up. These manipulations are not cheats. It’s the art of misdirection, and they are literary Houdinis. When finishing their books, readers should sigh with satisfaction, perhaps uttering, “I didn’t see that coming!”
Warning: This post includes plot spoilers to numerous novels: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Third Man, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Where the Crawdads Sing, Rebecca and The Silent Patient. If you haven’t read these books, go read them, then immediately return and read this post.
Here are a few crafty ways storytellers mess with readers’ minds: