Jan 18, 2013


So I've Been Thinking.... #5: "Twist" Endings

Hey, Luke! You know that guy in the cape? The one with the funky mask? Yeah, him. Well, I don't want to spoil the surprise, but he's your dad!

The good news? He only kinda sorta wants you dead.

The bad news? Gender confusion appears to run in the family. You may want to get a new haircut.

They're everywhere. Those ultimate "surprise" endings that nobody except for the majority of the human population ever saw coming. They may have started off okay, and probably even have a pretty good premise, but they're overworked and hinted at so much that there really isn't much guessing left by the end of the story. At that point, all of the built up tension falls flat, and you're just left thinking, oh well, I guess that was sort of nice.

That's not what I want out of my books! I'm what you'd call an "active reader," always trying to figure things out along with everybody else in the story. I try to be a part of the novels I'm reading as much as possible because if I take the time to invest myself in the story, I'm going all the way. That's just how I do things.

I recently read a story (that shall remain nameless, no book bashing here) with this problem. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it as a whole, but it just didn't do it for me. The characters were great, the premise was awesome, and a whole lot of time was invested into world building, but it just seemed too.... predictable.

When I was able to see every major plot point coming, including the huge "twist" ending, the book lost a lot of its appeal. I basically had the entire storyline, sans minor occurrences, mapped out in my head. That took pretty much all of the fun out of reading the book because if you already know what's going to happen, then why keep going?

Good books, and I mean really good books, drag you along to the very last page. You're always completely immersed in the story, never breaking the suspension of disbelief by your own fulfilled predictions. There is no way you're putting that book down because you know that you'll never be able to sleep until you figure out what really happens.

That's not to say that you can never guess anything right in book, just that the story shouldn't be so transparent that you can see all the way to the ending after the first few chapters.

Now, I'm not saying that the only good books out there have that element of mystery to keep the readers guessing because that's not true at all. There are absolutely amazing books that never even try to twist and turn to confuse the reader, but they are very evident about that. You start running into problems when there's this highly extensive dramatic build up to some great reveal that never seems to live up to itself.

So what do you guys think? Do you like to be actively involved in figuring out the story, or do you usually just go along for the ride? Are you bothered when even really good books turn out to be completely predictable?

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