O'Reilly logo

Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane Cleland

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter Seven

The Devil Made Me Do It

Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.

—Graham Greene

Understanding Human Nature

One way to think about human nature is to consider the role of red herrings in controlling reader perceptions. While red herrings are commonly associated with crime fiction, authors of all genres can implement them. Memoirs, literary fiction, and literary nonfiction benefit, too, because red herrings add layers of complexity to plots and characterizations.

Crime fiction writers use red herrings to paint the innocent with the colors of guilt. It’s a sobering responsibility. We authors wield awesome power. The words we choose can convince readers that someone who’s innocent is, in fact, guilty, and can allow the ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required