Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do we like spoilers? If so, what does that mean for writing?

I keep hearing abut this study done by UCSan Diego that tells us that we will actually enjoy a story more if someone has already ruined the plot twist. Their study included not only literary works, but mysteries, and ironic twist stories as well. (keep in mind that I don’t prescribe to the journal the article was in, so most of my understanding is coming from secondary articles).

This sounds counter intuitive. However, one of the authors of the study argues that we will like the story more because we can spend more time learning the deeper meaning in the story than trying to figure out what is going to happen. Is it true that the plot of a story isn’t as important as writers believe they are?

The study also covered a little about where and when we like to get our spoilers. When given a paragraph outside of the story that told the twist of the work about to be read people enjoyed reading the story the most. But if the spoiler is inserted into the story “It didn’t go over as well”. The article also said that people liked spoilers the least when they were smack dab in the middle. Does that mean we want spoilers, but only from outside sources? Is it possible that we will enjoy a piece the best if given a spoiler right at the beginning of the story? (Like Romeo and Juliet?)

What does this mean for writers? Will literary works become simpler as writers become more engrossed with simply selling the most copies of their book? What will happen to books like Utopia that make us reflect not only about ourselves but society? Will EVERY facet of entertainment slip into the reality-tv-esk plot where characters are never cleverer than getting drunk and stripping?

Maybe I am being overly panicky. They did hypothesize that people don’t care about spoilers because they were looking for the sort of deeper meaning that usually takes a second read through a book. But what’s the point in being clever if people don’t want to read it? Sure it easier to go through life with someone giving us all of the answers, but shouldn’t there be at least a little bit of a struggle for knowledge to make us appreciate it?

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