Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment


The Highs & Lows of Being a Spoiler Prude


I'm a little intense when it comes to things I like. Like books. Now, I'm not trying to tell anyone how they should do stuff. AT ALL. To each his/her own I always say. Same goes for reading. But like I said...sometimes I get intense. And when I get intense, I can be a little.... extreme. And I'm extreme about trying my best to avoid spoilers for things I want to enjoy at my own pace. I am, more or less, a spoiler prude. A spoiler flirt sometimes. (Thank you Wench Shau for that term!) And this is where I plead my case.


“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~Ernest Hemingway




My reading journey started when I was very young. My mom was a huge bookie. And she made her kids into bona fide bookies, too. I read all your usual children's books. But I first discovered my deep love of a good story when I read my first mystery. I enjoyed Enid Blyton's Famous Five series when I was young, Nancy Drew books, and even my brother's Hardy Boys books. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes had me addicted very early on, along with Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novels. I own every story by the latter two. A good mystery teaches readers that good things come to those who wait. I very much doubt there is a single person on earth who can say he/she really RELISHES a good mystery AND wants spoilers for it. It just doesn't happen. The whole point of a good, old-fashioned WHODUNNIT is the surprise at the end. The "I CANNOT BELIEVE IT WAS THAT GUY!" factor.


The Butler did it?!!? Who knew...

But then, as my reading repertoire grew and I learned to love more genres, I realized there was not a single good story where I wanted to know the conclusion beforehand. I see my aversion to spoilers as a minor, harmless form of being an adrenaline junkie. That thrill, that build up, that tingling in my spine, the way my heartbeat races as I continue reading. The way the hairs at the back of my neck rise as the heroine hears footsteps coming up to her room, my shallow breathing that accompanies the hero's when a dark shadow follows him in the dead of night down that deserted alley, my temporary relief at discovering friend not foe. Every step I take with the characters into the unknown. Every gasp of shock and sigh of relief I experience.... Is an addiction. The sweetest addiction.



Long Slow Goodbye


A good book makes me savor the journey. I want to get lost in the world the author has created. I want to live and breathe THROUGH the characters. I want to gasp with them, sigh with them, cry and laugh with them. Knowing what lies ahead is being way, way ahead, and I want to be on the same page. The same bloody word. That is the beauty of a good story to me, where I get so lost that nothing else matters. Not the end, but only the next page, the next damn paragraph! Where I am so desperate to know what is going on that turning each page to get another piece of the puzzle is something I MUST do. That need. That physical necessity to tread the same steps as the characters is as real and essential as breathing to me. The ending will come, it always does. Why then would I hasten the beautiful, if sometimes heartbreaking, journey ahead of me for something that will still be there after I take time to enjoy the journey?
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~John Steinbeck

I won't lie and say there are things I haven't spoiled for myself. But in all honesty, they were things I didn't really enjoy. Spoiling myself was the only way to find out if the story was going to get any more enjoyable or bearable for me, whether I should even bother to continue reading. Needing spoilers is a sign of a weak or poorly written story for me. And a spoiled story offers no joy, no excitement for me, and I find myself reading without any emotional investment, consuming bland sustenance without flavor. Finishing the book after knowing the end or knowing what's coming is like robotically going through the motions. Completing a duty or a chore. I have never found any joy in it. It has always been a sign that I didn't enjoy the story, or that some external factor had ruined the simple pleasure of the story for me. (*cough cough* True Blood *cough cough*)
“Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey.” ~Unknown

For me and many others, the journey from point A to B is what matters. HOW will the heroine grow? HOW will she handle that loss, that heartbreak? Will the hero never learn? Will they find each other against all odds? Who will help? Who will stab them in the back? WHAT is the hero? What do the heroine's growing powers mean? Will they ever be the same? See, there will always be heroes and heroines, a frustrating love story, betrayal, hope, battles for souls and other important things. What matters is the how and why, the meat in the middle of the sandwich. The ending really matters only if you are truly invested throughout. If you have to read the end or spoil yourself about some major event in a book to BECOME invested, I'd say the author has failed miserably to draw you in.
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ~Anna Quindlen

My fellow Wenches know me, and they were there to support me when I read Fever and Chicagoland Vampires. Moments when I said, "OH MY GOD! JUST TELL ME IT WILL BE OKAY!?!" *frustrated sobbing* And they always knew I wasn't serious. I wasn't asking for anything except an outlet for my somewhat extreme reactions. And they all got that. I truly appreciate and am grateful to those who told me from the very beginning to avoid all spoilers for certain series. I listened to them. I refused to even talk to anyone about those books beyond "I love this line" until I was done, and I am so very, very glad for it. My journey through those books (and many more) was worth the trouble. The heartache, the agony, the hope, the tears, the love, the betrayal, the sorrow ― I felt these with every fiber of my being. I was swept up in a storm of emotions, I let my feelings overwhelm me, I thought of nothing else but what would happen next. And really, isn't fiction just the best possible away to escape reality? How would it be possible for my every thought to be about the story, wondering WTF would happen next, if I already knew? I love those bittersweet moments when I have to put the book away. Then while doing everyday things like cooking, washing dishes, and ironing, all I can think about is the book/world I've left behind on the nightstand. I space out and once again travel to that world while my annoying neighbor prattles on about one thing or another. If that isn't the perfect way to take a vacation from everyday life, I don't know what is!

Daydream central

I look forward to my thoughts being consumed by the book I am currently reading. Rereads are amazing too, mostly because I get to relive the moments that amazed me. When the author thoroughly mind fucked me, or when I thought the author had lost it and wanted to alienate her readership, or when I thought it was ALL going to be okay and it turned out I was naïve. Life will never be a journey like that. But a book, well... let's just say you don't need a passport to go on the journey of a lifetime. And if you're lucky, you'll go on more journeys than you ever imagined possible. Fall in love several times. Lust after countless fictional lovers, admire many a courageous woman, and visit lands far, far beyond your reach: Dublin, Chicago, Bon Temps, Maine, Scotland, New Orleans, the wilds of Africa, the largely uninhabited forests of the Amazon. I have been everywhere in my head. Mostly not even knowing I was headed there, but always awestruck and amazed when I got there. I swear to you, there have been times when, after a particularly satisfying journey through a book, I got into bed actually sighing, thinking "that was a great yet tiresome trip! I should get some rest. And dive right back in tomorrow!"


And In the End, It Doesn't Even Matter


My aim isn't to convince anyone to not spoil themselves. I bring no judgment or condemnation here to the spoiler whores among us ― you guys know I love you and your exuberance for the books we all love. I simply wanted to explain why we spoiler prudes are so uptight about this. And to let other spoiler prudes know they aren't alone, or weird, or neurotic, as I have been labelled. We are just addicted to the potent thrill of a good story, the juiciest nectar of the ripest peach, and we savor each bite. Each step is important, each page brings us closer to the pinnacle, and those cliffhangers that leave others impatient just make us breathless with anticipation. And we dive off those cliffs, into the unknown that follows, with smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts. Not to say we are never disappointed. But those disappointments pale in comparison to the high points, the elation of reading that perfect ending. The moment that fixes everything you thought was broken. It could be as little as a sentence or two, but it is a turning point you were glad you never saw coming.

A few tips for my fellow spoiler prudes/flirts

I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

  • Let it be widely known you are one. No shame in it. Just make sure everyone knows you don't appreciate spoilers. Books, TV series, movies, whatever. It's not their fault if they didn't know you had a problem with spoilers to start with. And if they do, most people respect that and try to accommodate you.
  • Always look for spoiler alerts or warnings. And when among friends, always ask for spoiler warnings.
  • Trust your fellow spoiler prudes. They usually know best and you won't be sorry.
  • Browsing is not your friend. Try to restrain yourself from randomly reading about something you are currently reading or watching until you're done. The Internet is teeming with spoilers. Trust me.
  • I have mastered the art of skimming stuff people say; the second I see something that might lead to a spoiler or a discussion that looks like it's heading there I stop. So STOP when you see something shady, no matter how it looks. You will regret it later when it clicks. Just stop reading the second you realize the discussion isn't spoiler free. Some people aren't great with the spoiler warnings, and skimming is a good way of avoiding what you can.
  • Don't freak out if you find out minor details. It probably won't ruin anything for you as long as you stay away from the big deals. Even authors give away tiny spoilers sometimes, and those just whet your appetite for more. So chill out and read baby!
    :-)




So? What about you, Saucy reader? Spoiler Prude? Or are you a bit of a flirt who likes to be teased?

Comments

  1. I love this post! It perfectly captures the essence of what it's like for me to be a spoiler prude, and makes it sound reasonable and not crazy at all!!! (I never thought it was crazy. But others have disagreed with me.) It explains exactly why I don't want to be spoiled. I learned years ago, when I peeked at my Santa gifts ahead and then had no surprises on Christmas morning, that I like surprises. I don't enjoy a book nearly so much when the surprises are spoiled. I don't necessarily try to figure everything out as I read, I just like to be swept along for the ride, utterly consumed.

    If I'm honest, though, I'm more of a spoiler flirt because I like to know things will be okay. But that's ALL I want to know. I am not sure I have ever read a "most shocking cliffhanger" without knowing there was a shocking cliffhanger but it would all be okay eventually. So I'm not sure I could survive the shock, physically or emotionally, of being completely unspoiled! I feel bad for those who had to wait a long time for the next book after Dreamfever's or Hard Bitten's ending.

    Thanks for sharing your very entertaining viewpoint!


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    1. THANKS Kathi!! Glad you like it!! And I agree, I love surprises too, for the most part.

      I can be a spoiler flirt.. but rarely. I actually was completely shocked by the end of Dreamfever, to those who remember, I DID NOT see it coming. AT ALL. But man.. was it worth it! And Hard Bitten, I figured it would be some minor tragedy like him dating someone else, not what happened at all. So in both cases, I was in deep, hook,line and sinker! And loved every, agonizing moment! :D

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  2. Spoiler Prude and proud of it. Dreamfever will always be my standard. As gut wrenching as that was, I'm so glad I didn't know how it was going to end up before I got there on my own.

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    1. Exactly Veronica!!! That was one EPIC journey! And I am so glad I had no freaking idea what was going to happen next! KMM blew my f***ing mind!

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  3. Great post Zee. I would say I'm more of a spoiler flirt now. There are somethings I don't mind being spoiled by ie a new series I start, yet the five books. Of course I'm going to know who the main couple is.

    I, as many I know, was heavily involved in the True Blood fandom and I now think that it spoilt my enjoyment of the show. The last season I took a step back and didn't involve myself in discussing it or looking up things online and I actually shock, horror liked it better. That's not to say I think it is as fantastic as it was when it started, but I was able to just take the show as it came and not obsess over what was to come.

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    1. Thanks Ang! Yeah I think we all are spoiler flirts to some extent. Sometimes it's fun not knowing who the main couple will be too! :D

      TB just made me completely step back after the train wreck that was s4. Never looked back. But what I meant, in my post, was that it managed to ruin SSN for me. After years of patient waiting, I now need (since the series) someone trusted to give me the green light, the "it's safe" to read the next book. And I hate that. But glad you can still enjoy it :) taking a step back from the insane fandom MUST have helped lol.

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  4. First, I just have to say "Ha... Beth dies" (10 points if you get that reference).

    I HATE spoilers and I really don't understand why people read the endings of books first. I even had to stop trolling Iced theory forums because there are so many diehard fans that analyze every minor detail and probably have a lot of the future plots figured out, and, honestly, I don't want to know. I want the anticipation of the unknown.

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    1. Beth dies, Jo cuts her hair.. *sigh* I never got over either. (Am I right? Do I get 10 points??? :P )

      OMG Krista, I do not KNOW how people read endings first!! On purpose! It makes me dizzy just thinking about it! I tend to avoid forums that don't have clear spoiler warnings. When Iced was released I went no where but FB till I was done!! Totally worth it!!

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    2. Krista, *gasp* "I can't believe she cracked your code!"

      And Zee, *gasp* I can't believe you missed a "Friends" reference! Tsk, tsk! :D

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    3. OMG Barb!! That's what happens when I reply to comments in my sleep!!! I CAN NOT BELIEVE I MISSED A FREAKING JOEY reference!!!!! Shame on me!

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    4. Dammit! :p

      I'm usually a sore loser, but since it's to our wonderful Head Wench Barb I'll accept :p and she won fair and square anyway *sigh*

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  5. Love your post,I am a Spoiler Prude, I like to be surprised,to turn page after page holding my breath in anticipation.I like to try and guess the next move, who will win the hero/heroine heart,who is the villain,your post said it all.

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    1. Thank you Merit!!!! And exactly :) each page is a separate adventure! Why spoil it!

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  6. Now I see why you were horrified that I read the last sentence of "Iced" before I started reading it. LOL I consider myself a spoiler flirt. I want to know a little, but not the big stuff...no matter how much I beg.

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    1. Gack, I never want to read the last sentence! (And that was a loaded sentence, I thought, in Iced.) I often check to see how much "extra stuff" is at the end of an ebook and what the "real" last page is, but I try really, really hard to not actually see anything on the last page!!!

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    2. Lol Amanda. I was just upset for you :p But yeah, I think we all can be spoiler flirts sometimes..

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