The Science of the Plot Twist

“A major part of the pleasure of plot twists, too, comes not from the shock of surprise, but from looking back at the early bits of the narrative in light of the twist. The most satisfying surprises get their power from giving us a fresh, better way of making sense of the material that came before. This is another opportunity for stories to turn the curse of knowledge to their advantage.

Remember that once we know the answer to a puzzle, its clues can seem more transparent than they really were. When we revisit early parts of the story in light of that knowledge, well-constructed clues take on new, satisfying significance.”

Read more at The Conversation

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When Action Isn’t a Good Thing

“For example, we need to write a scene with two characters talking, but something should be happening besides dialogue, right? Enter props. We put them at a kitchen table and give them tea to pour into cups. We put them in a car where they can fiddle with the radio dial and glance in the rear-view mirror. We get them to fiddle with their clothes, their jewelry, their wristwatch.

But is that action actually related to what else is happening in the scene? Does the action reveal something about the characters or the plot? Or is simply to keep our characters busy? “

More at Writers in the Storm…

Author Earnings Sliding Fast in U.K.

  1. Can authors make a living as a writer?
  2. Is this another case for self-publishing and self-promotion?

From Publishers Weekly:

Median annual income of professional writers in the U.K. is now under £10,500, down by 15% since 2013, according to ALCS (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) research. That figure puts authors’ hourly rate well below minimum wage

The earnings figure of £10,500 compares to the figure of £17,900 defined last year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as the income level considered to be a socially acceptable standard of living for a single person.

According to the ALCS research, working writers’ earnings continue to decline sharply and the gender pay gap is opening up. The median earnings of professional writers–that is those who dedicate over half their working hours to writing–has fallen by 42% in real terms since 2005, and by 15% since 2013.

Earnings are also well below minimum wage, which for those over 25 is £7.83. Based on a standard 35-hour week, the median hourly earnings of a professional writer are now £5.73.

More from PW_Weekly…

The Time Arthur Conan Doyle Helped Solve a Real Murder Case

From Publishers Weekly…

It was one of the most sensational crimes—and most scandalous wrongful convictions—of the 20th century, a case that would be known as the Scottish Dreyfus affair. It involved a savage murder, stolen jewels, an international manhunt and a wily maidservant who went to her grave knowing far more about the killing than she would ever disclose.

Even more remarkably, it involved the world’s foremost writer of detective fiction, playing real-life detective on a case in which the stakes could scarcely be higher—a case, he wrote, that was a “disgraceful frame-up, in which stupidity and dishonesty played and equal part.”

Just before Christmas 1908, Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 82-year-old Scotswoman, was violently murdered in her Glasgow home. Robbery appeared to have been the motive, although Miss Gilchrist’s maid, Helen Lambie, told the police that only a single item was missing: a valuable gold brooch, shaped like a crescent moon and set along its length with diamonds.

More… 

AudioBooks up 23%

Audiobooks continued their meteoric rise in 2017, a new report issued by the Audio Publishers Association found, with another year of double-digit growth for both audiobook sales and title output.

Total sales rose 22.7% in 2017, to an estimated $2.5 billion, over an estimated $2.1 billion in sales in 2016. Unit sales rose an estimated 21.5%, the APA reported. Sales are based on reports from about 20 audiobook publishers. The APA then extrapolates from those figures, to derive an estimate for the entire market.

The audience for audiobooks remains young, with 54% of audiobook listeners under the age of 45. They are also consistent readers in all formats, the studies found: not only do audiobook listeners listen to an average of 15 books a year, but 83% of frequent listeners also read a hardcover or paperback over the last 12 months, and 79% also read an e-book.

More from Publishers Weekly…

B&N Losing in 2018Q2

Total sales at Barnes & Noble fell 6.0% in the fiscal year ended April 28, 2018, compared to fiscal 2017, and the retailer posted a net loss of $125.5 million last year, compared to net income of $22.0 million in fiscal 2017. Revenue last year was $3.66 billion, down from $3.89 billion in fiscal 2017.

The net loss includes a host of one-time charges: impairment charges of $135.4 million, $16.2 million of severance charges, and $15.3 million of strategic initiative costs. Excluding one-time charges in both fiscal years, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $145.4 million in fiscal 2018, down from $187.2 million a year ago.

More from Publishers  Weekly…