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.