Dickens on plot twists and (mis?)direction and managing reader’s realisations in serialised formats

Dickens, in his afterword to Our Mutual Friend, describes the fine balance (in a serialised novel!) of giving readers enough information to work out what was happening, but little enough that they thought they weren’t meant to. The trick of letting the audience feel smart without thinking the author foolish.

Photo of Postcript to Our Mutual Friend
Redacted in case you have not yet read the (wonderful) novel (although I do often recommend the BBC miniseries as an entry point, not least because it’s so short compared to the novel and therefore difficult to come back to afterwards)



When I devised this story, I foresaw the likelihood that a class of readers and commentators would suppose that I was at great pains to conceal exactly what I was at great pains to suggest: namely, that ******, and that ********. Pleasing myself with the idea that the supposition might in part arise out of some ingenuity in the story, and thinking it worth while, in the interests of art, to hint to an audience that an artist (of whatever denomination) may perhaps be trusted to know what he is about in his vocation, if they will concede him a little patience, I was not alarmed by the anticipation.

To keep for a long time unsuspected, yet always working itself out, another purpose originating in that leading incident, and turning it to a pleasant and useful account at last, was at once the most interesting and the most difficult part of my design. Its difficulty was much enhanced by the mode of publication; for, it would be very unreasonable to expect that many readers, pursuing a story in portions from month to month through nineteen months, will, until they have it before them complete, perceive the relations of its finer threads to the whole pattern which is always before the eyes of the story-weaver at his loom. Yet, that I hold the advantages of the mode of publication to outweigh its disadvantages, may be easily believed of one who revived it in the Pickwick Papers after long disuse, and has pursued it ever since.

Motivational quotes

- Angle Grinding
- Bed of Nails
- Fire Acts (Excludes pyro as defined by state or federal laws)
- Sword Swallowing
- Own Body Piercing

I keep this screenshot (from a list of exclusions on my insurer’s website) to look at whenever I start feeling like the book life might be a little bit risky.

(The version below is less snappy, but it’s funnier because of the cooking.)

Workshops and teaching are automatically covered for all insured performing activities except:  Aerial Performer, Sword Swallowing, Angle Grinding, Parkour, Cooking Demonstrations, Bed of Nails, Fire Acts, Own Body Piercing, Roller Skating / Skateboarding.

(Source: Duck for Cover)

Just one more thing

Screenshot of the words:
"Here is a thing that didn't exist yesterday..."
Emily Carding, introducing a video on her Patreon
Screenshot of the words: 
"Also there is a sense of creation about it. There were more horses in the field when I left it than there were when I went in."
T. H. White, after assisting at a foaling, in England Have My Bones

Peter de Sève on style (or ‘voice’)

 “An artist’s drawing is a catalog of the shapes that he loves. When I’m drawing something, I’m trying to find the shapes that please me. I believe that’s what makes up what people refer to as a style”.

 Peter de Sève, A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève

The Write-in Worked

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
18,631 / 50,000

The story… well, it hasn’t progressed as such, but I’ve developed some conspiracy theories.

Finding Beauty

Many beauty routines are for the sake of the one being beautified. Mine – particularly my eyebrow topiary – are for the comfort of others. I don’t have to look at The Eyebrows. I don’t have nightmares about them growing together and then down the side of my face.

“You have the most wonderful eyebrows!” said the beautician. “You can hear them rip.” She sounded genuinely delighted.
“I’m glad I could brighten your day,” I said.
We then discussed Regency banquets and I discover now that she had a very good time with my eyebrows. They are narrower than they have ever been and look rather lost in my face.

This did not seem to bother my Macedonian taxi driver, who told me I was beautiful, and was I married? did I have a boyfriend? was I looking for one? because he knew how hard it must be to find a guy who wasn’t “a pisspot, stupid or not right” when you work until after 10pm, and promised to look for a suitable husband for me.