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Spoiler alert: spoilers make you enjoy stories more

31 May 2016

From The University of California:


16 Comments to “Spoiler alert: spoilers make you enjoy stories more”

  1. the Other Diana

    Not really. I can think of several Spoilers that let me know that book/movie wasn’t for me.

    I don’t know of any spoilers that made me enjoy it more.

    A spoiler in a mystery would defeat the purpose, no?

  2. Gee, I’ll have to spoil my readers more (those not already spoiled.)

    Though that guy Gallagher warned us about them there California types. He said they twas like a bowl of granola, what ain’t nuts and fruit be flakes …

    (Course one of me brothers lived over there for ten years, seems he blended right in.)

  3. Half of the book descriptions I read are basically spoilers. Sometimes movie trailers give you the whole plot, and DH and I look at each other and ask ourselves why would we bother to go watch?

    Dean Wesley Smith has blog posts on writing descriptions so they are not spoilers; I like those better – but I’m not sure everyone does.

    • I pass those books right over. As you said, what’s the point if the entire story is laid out in the description?

      • There is one very strong reason: because the how is much more important than the what.

        It works for some kinds of mysteries: you know who the killer is from the beginning, and it is more suspenseful to wonder if he/she is going to get away with it than it would be to have someone unmasked only in the final chapter. Readers like being in on the suspense.

        And it works for books with impossible premises (like mine); you read to find out if it is possible – and how – to get from point A. (the first chapter) to point B. (that spoiler in the prologue or the book’s description – the prologue works better). The more outrageous the possibility, the more that works as a hook.

        • True!

          Most I’ve read that do it though, are usually new writers who aren’t really good at writing descriptions. =/

  4. I would’ve been extremely upset if GoT S6, Ep.5 had been spoiled for me. Other things, spoilers don’t bother me so much (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead).

    Since people DO toss GoT spoilers all over the place, and the show is now “off book”, I signed on with HBONow instead of waiting for Amazon to get S6.

  5. Spoilers sure do help me enjoy a story more. I actively seek out spoilers, and I also quite often read the ends of books before the beginning. It helps me be excited about the story, TV show, or movie more than I would otherwise. Spoilers have often made me watch or read something I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise.

  6. I just today read a Kirkus review for a Thriller that won’t be out until August. It basically outlined the entire plot, including twists, then had one paragraph about the author’s writing.

    Ugh. Movie trailers are even worse most of the time. I do get where the video is coming from, but there’s a difference between one spoiler and knowing the whole plot.

  7. I used to think spoilers were a bad thing, but over time I discovered that I am actually able to enjoy a story more if I’m not constantly being surprised by it. Knowing what’s going to happen ahead of time helps me to pay attention more closely to the nuances of the story.

  8. Reality Observer

    Meh. Guess I’m one of the odd ones out, here (so far, anyway). Can’t stand spoilers. Can’t stand snippets.

    I will watch something, or read something, again if it was good the first time. But it never, ever matches up to the first experience the second, third, etc. time around.

  9. Yeah, no. Some a-holes spoiled The Empire Strikes Back for me. “Wasn’t it amazing about Vader being Luke’s father?” they said on their way out of the movie (in the parking lot, but still!).

    Then some a-hole guy wanting to impress his date spoiled The Sting for me. I never wanted to murder anyone more than I did at that moment.

  10. Suburbanbanshee

    The first read or watch provides a visceral experience of being there (or with nonfiction, of confronting new ideas or learning new information, with all the sparking of new ideas within myself that those things imply). Knowing the ending and the plot, or the argument of nonfiction, in anything but the most general terms (ie, “it ends happily,” or “Dr. Bob found new info about Charlemagne”) often removes all of one’s motivation to get past the stresses of suspense, or the hard work of reading through all the info. (Obviously this is not true for spoiler lovers and people who read the end first, but their minority quirk is not everyone’s.)

    The second time through, and every reread after, is for nuances and close reading, or for skipping and skimming to get to the good parts.

    For some reason, a lot of academics fear or dislike absorption reading, and treat close reading as the only worthwhile kind. This study is yet another version of their usual rot.

  11. The Sting, yes! That would have been so sad not to have that experience. 🙂

    OTOH, watching it a second time to see how they set it up was also amazingly fun. So it’s a good example for both, I guess. 🙂

  12. I’m not pleased with reviews for my own books which spoil the plot, including the outcomes. All the trouble I go to to set up surprising twists for the pleasure of my readers, spoiled for the next reader (who also, incidently, may decide not to bother becoming the next reader.)

    Why do people do that? It’s not a 5th grade book report. It’s like graffiti – a way of marking that they’ve been somewhere, and spoiling it for whomever follows.

    • I know what you mean. A reader spoiled the whole turning point scene in my series in a review–not just spoiling the book, but the whole series. It would have been okay if this person had marked it with a spoiler alert, but he/she didn’t. I figure it’s cost me and Amazon at least a few sales and cost other readers the enjoyment of finding out for themselves.

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