Well, it’s official! A lot of us want to know Who Did It ... in advance!
Are you nodding or shaking your head? As a group of mystery/thriller/suspense authors, what do we think about that? :)
This is just a light-hearted look today, but authors are often disappointed when readers and reviewers give away significant plot twists when they talk about a book online. In the old days (Clare rocks herself in a granny chair), of course this was more difficult, when books were only in print. Then you could only pass on spoilers to the people you physically met. But now online and in the world of ebooks, we can tell anyone ANYTHING! Great for exposure and creating a buzz for our new book… maybe not so good when we have a devastating twist on the last but one page and want to keep that as a special surprise for the reader.
Even the writers of the article aren’t sure if they agree with the findings *g*. The link to the article is below, but here are the main points (hmm, does that count in itself as passing on spoilers???):
“Even though we are no fans of spoilers, Wired's Jonah Lehrer makes a good case for why humans derive pleasure in understanding. "The human mind is a prediction machine, which means that it registers most surprises as a cognitive failure, a mental mistake," he writes. "Our first reaction is almost never 'How cool! I never saw that coming!' Instead, we feel embarrassed by our gullibility, the dismay of a prediction error." …
... As far as the second reason (a good surprise lets you focus on the quality of telling), the A.V. Club's Sean O'Neal suggested another theory, boiled down to readers just liked how the spoiled stories "cut to the chase." Which is to say, readers liked the cliff-notes version.”
Well ... maybe, maybe not, I say :).
I think most readers understand the need to be cautious of spoilers, especially if they love being surprised themselves. Else why do people read mystery at all? I’ve personally been impressed that readers have kept the murderer’s identity secret in Blinded by Our Eyes. There aren’t many candidates : and the book is more of a Whydunnit than a Whodunnit. But I appreciate them keeping the spirit of the genre. Also in my book Freeman, it’s not until the final chapters that Freeman’s secrets are exposed to Kit, the young man he’s developed a tentative relationship with. It’s critical for the suspense in the book that these secrets peel out gradually – that’s part of Freeman’s narrative style at the very least! Again, I’ve been grateful that readers and reviewers praise it without needing to give away WHAT HAPPENS *g*.
So what do you think? Keep secret or spill the beans? And how much do you mind, as both reader and author?