As someone who both reads and writes romance stories, I’m hyper aware of predictability in this genre. I remember once, when I was about 15/16 and working Saturdays in a library, I had a lunchtime lecture from one of my co-workers about Mills & Boons books. They were the only books this woman read (I’m not judging, honest) and she had realised over the years that there were a staple set of story lines that were used over and over again.
“Why do you read them if you know what is going to happen?” Was my question. I always read to escape, so I couldn’t get my head round the idea of knowing what was going to happen at the end.
“It’s not how the story ends, it’s how the reader is carried to that ending that is important.” Her response has always stayed with me.
Now I’m an adult, I can completely see where she’s coming from. We’ve all read those books where we know exactly how it’s going to end, but we still read it. The predictability doesn’t affect our enjoyment of the story in any way, and most of us forgive the tell tale giveaways, especially if the story takes us on a journey with a few twists and turns that the reader isn’t expecting. Yes, we may well be able to guess how a book is going to end, but if we are still compelled to turn the page to see how the characters get there, surely that author has done their job well, right? – This is a quote of something I wrote in a review of Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover over on my review blog. For me, that shows an author’s skill.
A lot of readers want to know if there is a HEA at the end of the book before they read it because they don’t like cliffhangers or sad endings. Personally, I don’t. I like to get stuck into a book without reading existing reviews and knowing little about it. There’s a magic about reading a book for the first time, especially if you end up loving it, even if you ‘kinda’ know how things will pan out.
How do YOU feel about predictability in books.
I know this isn’t just common in the romance genre, it’s just the genre I have used for this post. I have seen it happen in fantasy books, horror, erotica and other genres.