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Spoilers and their Spoilage

I am no fan of spoilers. If I am looking forward to something (a book, a TV show, a movie) I make it a studious practice of avoiding anything that might hint at the plot, the twists or even if there is a surprise. I’ll read a review for about two lines to get the sense of whether the reviewer liked it or didn’t and then stop, for fear the reviewer has forgotten his job and gone and spoiled the premise for his readers.

Because, ladies and gentleman, IMHO the job of a reviewer is NOT to give away the plot. They can give a broad overview of the story, but when they lay out each and every surprise, twist or character Ta-Da the author, playwright or screenwriter has carefully and meticulously labored over to layer into the story just so, then they might as well have just slammed the oven door on the souffle. I say this for two reasons:

1) I’ve been getting in the early reviews for Tempted by the Night. They usually come to me via the reviewer, my agent, my publisher and appear in my inbox. And when I see that someone has reviewed my book, especially this one, I am at first thankful for the time they’ve spent to give my book a review, but there is also that momentary cringe. Dear God, don’t let them give away the farm, I mutter as I click the mail open. Most of the reviews have been good at realizing that the reader is going to have more fun with this story if they don’t know every detail of the plot. They understand that the reading experience is about being surprised about who the characters are after you’ve peeled through the requisite chapters like layers of a onion. There is, I’ve discovered, a subtle hand that has to go into reviewing that sadly not every reviewer out there possesses. I marvel at the ones who get it right–they really do have a difficult task, a balancing act that they must do in a very short amount of space. So if you hate spoilers like I do, don’t go looking for them. You’ll regret it.

2) The second reason I am ranting about spoilers today was the complete and utter lack of spoilers about the movie Hancock. Maybe I just never got around to delving too deep into reading about Will Smith’s new movie before I went to see it. The review in the paper was mixed, but one would have never guessed the secrets the reviewer had held back. And thank you very much to that critic because it made the movie that much better. Even with the mixed review, I wanted to see Hancock because I do like superhero stories, and Will Smith always cracks me up. The man is just too funny. We went to see it last week, on a Wednesday night when the theater was nearly empty and I could literally laugh my ass off without ticking off an entire theater full of people. When I laugh, I laugh loud and by the end of the first scene I was already embarrassing myself. And then the movie shifted, surprised me and I found myself crying. What I thought would be a good, funny, mindless summer popcorn flick became something more. I can’t say anything else for fear I’ll say too much. It is the sort of movie that if you know the premise, you won’t love it as much as you will if you can discover its secrets one scene at a time.

This came home to me Tuesday night when I took my son to see The Clone Wars.  (BTW, I will spoil this one and say–save your money.  For something more fun.  Like a root canal.) We were in line for tickets and the couple behind us were discussing whether or not to go see Hancock.  She’d seen it and I asked her if she’d liked it.  She looked a little panicked and said, “Yes, but I want him to be surprised.”  So did I.

So if you haven’t done so, do go see it. I thoroughly enjoyed it because no one had spoiled the fun.

9 comments to “Spoilers and their Spoilage”

  1. cheryl c.
    August 21st, 2008 at 10:14 am · Link

    I enjoyed Hancock,too, even though it took an unexpected, kinda strange turn. I love Will Smith. The movie would not have been as good with another actor in the part.

  2. Helen
    August 21st, 2008 at 10:02 pm · Link

    I haven’t seen it yet and I am another one who doesn’t like to have things spoiled by someone else.

    BTW I am really looking forward to the new book Elizabeth can’t wait to read it

    Have Fun

  3. Lois
    August 22nd, 2008 at 4:56 am · Link

    I’m the total opposite, I live for spoilers. . . gotta know what’s going to happen a month ahead of time on Guiding Light for example. LOL 🙂 I usually have to wait until a movie comes out on DVD to see it, so I generally know what the X-Files movie is about, and know you have to wait until the end of the credits to see some sort of scene. . . knew the major scene was in Star Wars episode III before going there, and boy was it a lot better than it sounded in the spoilers. LOL So, anyway, I love those spoilers! 🙂


  4. Rachel Jessup
    August 22nd, 2008 at 12:40 pm · Link

    I’m kind of inconsistent about liking spoilers. Sometimes, I actively seek them out; other times, I regret hearing/reading as much as I’ve done. The ones that really get to me are when things are given away in the synopsis on the cover of a book, or in the trailer or televised clips of a film. Before Pirates 2 came out, I was watching a talk-show interview with one of the actors, and the clip they showed included what would’ve been a great jump scare when the movie was actually released— but I knew it was coming, and was really disappointed as I sat in the theatre and waited for it to happen.

    That doesn’t happen as much with novels, but there have been a couple of times when I wish the cover summary hadn’t given away the turn the plot takes— I would much rather have just been taken through it by reading the story. I don’t usually read many reviews for books, for the very reason that you gave; too many end up outlining every single plot point or character development.

    But then I find myself glued to forums discussing every possible theory as to what’s going to happen on the next episode of Doctor Who. *g*

    What a bummer about The Clone Wars, though; I keep hearing that it’s a disappointment. It seemed promising, too.

  5. Michelle
    August 22nd, 2008 at 2:05 pm · Link

    Having found every way possible to cheat at board games in my youth, I find that discovering spoilers before books and movies are absolutely fantastic! I was totally horrified at the theater when Pirates 2 ended with a “to be continued”. I would have much rathered knowing that before-hand to prepare myself. Instead I walked around for a week afterwards extremely aggravated (to say the least.

  6. Nathalie
    August 23rd, 2008 at 7:29 am · Link

    I love to read spoilers before I buy a book… just to see if I like the plot.
    However, I agree they can give too much away, so now I just read the back cover and decide wether it would be a book I would enjoy.

  7. Kimmy Lane
    August 24th, 2008 at 1:39 pm · Link

    I took the kids to see Hancock about 3 weeks ago and we loved it. I have never laughed so much.

  8. Karen H in NC
    August 25th, 2008 at 6:00 am · Link

    I try to keep a blind eye when it comes to spoilers of any kind. I will read the author’s excerpts to help me decide if I will buy their books. Some authors are auto-buys and regardless of what the excepts and reviews say, I will buy the book. I try to avoid reading spoilers because I don’t want the details of a plot given away before hand.

    Same way with films. I wait until the DVD is released. All I know of a film before hand TV previews and what Netflix writes up about a film. I even try to avoid detailed reviews (good or bad) written by previous viewers. I don’t want someone else’s opinion (even film critics) to influence my decision.

  9. Lynn
    August 27th, 2008 at 10:47 am · Link

    I love spoilers. Most times I enjoy a book better the second or third time I read it–that is if I liked it the first time!

    I think it’s the uncertainty associated with a first time reading. What’s going to happen? Will it make me happy or sad? When I know what’s coming, I’m free to experience the emotions a little easier, without all that anxiety of the first read through. 🙂

    I’ve been known to go hunting for point-by-point reviews of books and tv shows. No one can tell a story in the same way the author tells it and that’s what makes me read even when I know what’s going to happen.



  1. dustbury.com » No spoilers, please

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