Do you ever intentionally mislead your reader? I don’t mean lie to your reader, but do you ever write something that could be taken more than one way and then nudge your reader the wrong way? It is something that Fannie Flagg did in I Still Dream about You.
One of her characters, Maggie, ends up investigating the life of a man who once lived in one of the biggest homes in Birmingham. Maggie, a realtor, is trying to sell the home and reads about the man in old society columns. One column includes a comment about his annual visits to his twin sister. From then on, you find references to both Edward and Edwina, the siblings, but Maggie can’t find a birth certificate for Edwina. She comes to the wrong conclusion but it is a conclusion that makes perfect sense given the evidence. Only the reader knows the truth which means you’ll have to read the book to find out what that truth might be.
I’m currently noodling over a YA novel idea that would require this kind of slight of hand. I hope I do it as artfully as cut paper artist Craig Tinsky. Check out this video. I thought it was a cut paper finger print until he showed it to us from a different angle.
Special thanks to Ann Martin of All Things Paper who brought Tinsky’s work to my attention.