As a writer, you’re an illusionist: you create brave new worlds for your reader and go to great lengths to make them seem as real and as plausible as possible — that is what writing good fiction is all about.

The subversive in me is interested in the effects of setting up an illusion only to destroy it with a kind of devastating sleight of hand.  It can be the most fantastic plotting device and leave your reader open-mouthed with astonishment. Sarah Waters is an absolute genius at this: without wanting to give too much away, in her novel Fingersmith she creates one reality only to whip the rug from under the reader’s feet and reveal another, different one in a way that can leave you feeling a little giddy.

So here’s a challenge for you: set a wheel turning  within a wheel — as you’re weaving one illusion, produce another like a string of bright silk handkerchiefs hidden up your sleeve. Fiction is bluffing anyway, but take it a step further and go for double bluff. It can be a circus trick: cue drumroll, cue fanfare…