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Spoiler etiquette - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Mar. 9th, 2007

10:27 pm - Spoiler etiquette

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Date:March 11th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
If the enjoyment of the story is destroyed by knowing how it ends then to me it would be an inadequate story. The pleasure and the adventure should be in the journey, not just in the destination. If the only ace it has up its sleeve to excite the reader is the event of the death then what's the rest of the story for except to fill up space until the inevitable?

I happily read and re-read books, knowing full well exactly what the twist at the end is, or what the characters are going to wind up doing. It doesn't stop me enjoying the books in the slightest, as I know that I have chosen to read quality writers who will keep me engaged and entertained along the way regardless of what I know of the events still to come.

I still like the film Vanilla Sky, even though I know exactly what the big twist at the end is. I can still enjoy it as a relatively clever and well-made piece of cinema.
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Date:March 11th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
That's a fair point; there are certainly books that I have read several times. I can't comment on the details of this particular issue, because I haven't read it yet, but I have been impressed by the writer's previous issues (I've read the paperback collections twice).

I think I see it more as a sliding scale than an "all or nothing" thing. In other words, a good story can be even better if there's something that surprises you the first time around, and I think it's a shame to deprive people of that opportunity. I think there are some stories which actively benefit from a second reading, since you can then see the foreshadowing for what you know is coming, and interpret words/actions in a different light.

Having said all that, I also think there are some stories which are only intended to be read/seen once, and that's ok. I'm thinking about murder mysteries in particular, although not all of them will fall into this category. In a story like that, the payoff is the ending where the murderer is revealed, but the rest of the story isn't just filler - it's guiding you to that point.

An analogy might be a sporting event such as a football match, although since I'm not a sports fan this may be a flawed analogy :) I think there are some moments that can be appreciated on their own merits (e.g. a goal scored from the opposite end of the pitch), but it mostly comes down to a case of rooting for your team. I gather that this is why match results are normally preceded by "If you don't want to know the result, look away now" - that way, if you've recorded the game and haven't watched it yet, you don't get the ending spoilt for you.
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