Who doesn’t? I love surprises. I love them so much I can’t wait. One holiday season, when I was very young, my mother left me home with my older brother. I searched every room in the house until I found where the presents were hidden. My mother got home from work to find me curled up in bed with the doll that was supposed to be my Christmas gift.
Yes. I love surprises. Except….I have a confession to make. I’m one of those people who turn to the last page of the book to see how it ends. Not right away. I have to get interested in the book in order to care about how it ends. But as soon as the author has me hooked, I flip to the last few pages.
I know. I know. Some of you are reading this with eyes wide open, jaw dropped to the floor, muttering curse words at me. How could I? I’ll let you in on another secret. When I get interested in a movie, I look it up on Wikipedia and read the plot. (At home. Using my phone in a movie theater is just rude.) Yes. I’m weird. My friends say I should be committed. But, come on. You already know how the book is going to end. It’s romance. There MUST be a happily-ever-after for our characters or they wouldn’t have their own book. Would you really read it if there was even the slightest possibility that they would end up alone and miserable? I didn’t think so.
Doesn’t it ruin the book or movie for me? Nope. I’m also one of those rare people that can reread the same book, or watch the same movie, dozens of times and I react the same way every time. In some cases, the emotional response comes earlier the second time because now I KNOW what’s coming. Case in point, the movie PS I Love You. The first time I saw this tear jerker, I started crying at Gerry’s funeral. Now, the tears start falling before his suspenders break.
Before I started writing, I didn’t do this. Okay, I did, but not as much as I do now. Years of taking classes on craft and learning to analyze stories has ruined me. In every book and movie, I’m looking for the “mirror moment”, the black moment and the climax. At least, that’s my excuse now. I’m sure some fancy psychologist could have a field day trying to explain my need to look up how it ends. There was probably some childhood trauma I’m not aware of. Or something.
To me, there’s something intrinsically satisfying about knowing what comes next. It’s like the author has let me in on their secret. Everybody else will just have to wait and see.
After reading this, can you guess when I write the ending of my stories? Bet you can’t guess.
Your post made me smile, LeAnne, as I recalled the time my brother and I found a stash of Christmas gifts before they were wrapped and had a good look. But that actually ruined the day for me - no surprises. Ive been guilty on occasion of peeking at the end of a book but now find I do that only when I'm not really hooked. And I'm betting you write the end before the beginning? Thanks for the fun post!ReplyDelete
Hi Janice! I do confess to being a little disappointed that Christmas morning. But it didn't stop me from snooping again the next year. Of course, they got better at hiding presents by then. :) And actually, shocker, the ending is the one surprise I can't cheat on when writing. It's usually the last scene I write because I don't know how it's going to end until everything else is done. Yes. I'm a contradiction.ReplyDelete
You and I are kindred spirits, LeAnne. I do the exact same things. It drives my family crazy too. Actually, I did this just last night. We were watching Guardians of the Galaxy, and my two boys wouldn't tell me if one of the characters I liked was going to die, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. LOL! I seriously don't like surprises.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad I'm not the only one! My husband loves to watch thrillers and try to figure out the culprit by the end of the movie. I just have to bite my tongue while he's guessing, because of course, I already know. :)Delete
I do this much more often than I want to admit. The other day, we stopped watching a movie halfway through and tossed the Netflix envelope back in the mail because I looked it up and...gasp!...he died!ReplyDelete
I never snoop at Christmas presents, though! :-)
Do you write the ending first? That's my guess.ReplyDelete
I don't read the endings of books ahead of time, but I can watch the same movie dozens of times. Seems like each time I see something I didn't before. I saw the movie The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks, and I wail every time. I think the actor and actress that play the lead are just perfect for their roles. Gets me every time.
Hi Laurie, The Best of Me is one of the few Nicholas Sparks films I haven't seen yet. Looks like I'll have to read up on that before I watch it. It won't stop me from bawling like a baby.Delete
Oh no! It's not very often that looking up the ending ruins it for me, but I think if I discovered the main character died, it just might. Not only do I have a hard time not looking for presents, I have a hard time keeping presents a surprise, too. There have been several occasions where my husband and I were so excited about a gift we'd gotten one of the kids that we couldn't wait to give it to them. Luckily my husband is as bad about that as I am.ReplyDelete
I'm a great believer in order and read from beginning to end... if it's a book. Movies, not so much. My son and I are watching Stranger Things (season one) and I've already read the reviews and what's coming next and we're only on episode 6.ReplyDelete
Uh oh. You are one of the ones who read my post and shook their head, huh? I'm bad, I know. I may need therapy.Delete
Lee Ann, my original post did not post, so if there is a slow uptake here, you'll get two from me. I loved how you make me laugh. I confess to re-reading favorite books and watching the same movies over and over.ReplyDelete
Sad. Mea culpa!
My husband doesn't understand how I can reread the same book over and over, but he's watched the Andy Griffith show so many times it takes him 2 seconds of the first scene and he knows exactly what's going to happen in EVERY show. I try to tell him there's no difference, but he doesn't believe me.Delete
Totally depends on the genre I'm reading if I skip to the end--if it's a mystery or thriller, if I want to make sure someone is still alive, then I'll jump. But with romance? It'll be a happy ending, so I read through. :) And I'm with you--I re-watch movies and TV shows ALL the time (re-read books, too). Makes me a better writer to get those "beats" down. Great post!ReplyDelete
So, re-books is more common than I thought. I have friends who get rid of books (gasp!) as soon as they read it because they'll never read it again. I can't even imagine...Delete
I read books and watch movies over and over too. I do like surprises, though. I didn't want to know the sex of either of my babies until they were born. I mentioned to a relative it would be like opening our Christmas presents early. Her attitude was "that's a bad thing?"ReplyDelete
Okay. You're just talking crazy. I have several friends who didn't find out what the gender of their babies were and that just made me gasp. It would make me nuts!!! You're willpower is amazing!Delete
I have to admit that I have never skipped ahead to read the ending of a book. As much as I try to figure out how a story will end (obvious element of a romance aside), I always hope that the ending will surprise me.ReplyDelete
LeAnne, let me know if you would like to read one of my books. I'll mail it to you with the last couple of chapters removed . . . and then I'll mail you those chapters a week later! :)
What!?! That's just mean!!!Delete
Oh LeAnne, I do that, too, especially with mysteries. I even do it while listening to books on cd!ReplyDelete
Finally! Someone who gets me. :)Delete
LeAnne, I do this, too. Especially if there's a pet involved - I have to know if the dog lives! If it dies, I'm done, Lol! Knowing the end of a story doesn't ruin it for me either. Although, I find reading ahead much more difficult on a Kindle. Here's my odd confession regarding the re-watching of my favorite movies; I usually stop it right before the end (happy or sad) because it makes me sad that it's ending.ReplyDelete
If there's a dog in the mix I definitely have to cheat and look at the end! And kindle does make it harder. Actually, I don't think I've looked at the ending of a any book I was reading on my kindle...hmmm...Delete
Ha! Love your post, LeAnne. Talk about looking at presents early: My hairdresser, who is about to get engaged, couldn't resist taking a peek at the gorgeous ring her boyfriend had put in his safe. Then she was afraid to tell him she'd seen it--and felt so guilty she burst into tears. Good thing he took it well. I once "got" the last line of a book I hadn't even started writing yet, and that shaped the whole story, but that's never happened to me again. Usually I write myself into a corner first--then come up with the ending!ReplyDelete
I'm really bad about those corners too! I wish I could come up with the endings right away, but no, the ending is a surprise to me too. The one thing I do in order!Delete
I also have certain books and movies I can reread and watch over and over again. But I draw the line at flipping to the end of a new book to find out what happens. LOL. I love the anticipation.ReplyDelete
Hi Tara. Did my confession make you cringe? I don't know why I'm weird that way.Delete
Ack! You're right, LeAnne, my jaw did drop to the floor. Although I'll watch movies over and over, I've never skipped to the end of a book. Wasn't that what Billy Crystal called his "dark side" in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY?ReplyDelete
When my sister was four, she slipped out of her bed on Christmas Eve and ripped open all of the Christmas presents under the tree...even mine! Going forward, Santa came on Christmas Eve while we were at church.
I'm sorry, Jill. I just can't help myself. And I'll have to look up that line from When Harry Met Sally. I love that movie! And I never opened anyone else's presents! That little stinker.Delete
I find it amazing that even knowing the ending, with some movies I watch in fear of the outcome anyway. I've watched Apollo 11 a dozen times and I'm always afraid they won't get back. Happens with a few good books, too. But I don't know that I've skipped to the end of a book unless I was giving up on it and just wanted to check on a character or two and see how their stories were resolved. One of my Wisconsin RWA friends told me recently that she reads the ending first--that surprised me! I'd not heard of anyone doing that before.ReplyDelete
I should meet this friend of yours! And I'm the same way with movies. My husband and I watched Secretariat again last night and I held my breath through all of his races. I was so nervous!Delete
I've only skipped to the end on one book--The Chamber by John Grisham. If the main guy was going to die, I didn't want to invest time in his story. lol And while I might have the ending of my stories in mind, a lot of the time I don't know 'who did it" until the end. :-)ReplyDelete
I wish I had your restraint, Patricia. The ending is the only thing I don't cheat on in my own books, lol.Delete
Wait! Aren't you supposed to read the end first?? :-) Your approach makes sense to me.ReplyDelete
I can't read any unsatisfactory ending.