June 16, 2014

Predictable? No Problem!



Krista Mcgee wrote a post recently about how predictable stories can be and how that's okay. I wanted to shout "AMEN" from the rooftops when I read it! (I refrained. Aren't you proud?)

The joy of reading or watching (or listening to) a good story is the telling of it. Exactly! I just read Cruel Beauty (review to come soon - til then, you should read it!), a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In other words, it's predictable. I knew exactly how the story would end. But the getting there? The journey? What the characters would think or do that I wasn't expecting? That part was not predictable and therefore I was swept up into the story very easily. (Seriously. You need to read this book!)

My point? Predictable stories are worth reading!

Now let me clarify one thing. I have read books where the plot was so full of clich├ęs and plotlines that had no originality and I found no surprise in them at all, and those sorts of predictable I can do without. (And it has more to do with how the writing didn't click with me.) But the idea that a book is predictable, or that it's a story you've read a thousand times before? Do NOT let that scare you away!

I am a big fan of retellings. I admit that it started with Jane Austen fanfiction, but it now includes fairy tales and classics and lots of other stories. And while I can predict where the story will end, it's the middle that truly counts.

It's the middle (and the beginning) where the author has the chance to give this well-worn story his/her own spin. Where they actually make it their own. And when they've spun me away into this world, that's when the magic happens and this story goes from being one I know well, to one that I've never read before. Even though I know the original!

Another excellent example is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I started that audiobook knowing full well that Cinderella goes to a ball and gets her prince. We all know that story. But what I (and you too) didn't know, was how Ms. Meyer was going to get her Cinderella from the scrubbing floor to the ball and the prince. Or what that prince was going to do or say. Or whether robots or spaceships would be involved. You see what I'm saying?

Predictability is not a bad word. It can get thrown around in book reviews (I've used it myself!), but that doesn't necessarily mean that the story is not one you should read. Or write!

You know the story well, but do you really? There are some amazing writers out there who can take predictable stories and by the end, that story is no longer anything like you thought it would be. And that's a pretty awesome thing! :)


10 comments:

  1. So true. While I don't like it when stories seem to contain no originality, and I do like it when a story takes me by surprise, I do not mind reading a predictable story as long as the tale has heart and shows a different point of view. I've read a few fairy tale retellings, like Cinderella retellings, and all three were enjoyable because of the differences in how "Cinderella" got her happily ever after- or not. The plots were the similar, but the journeys were different.

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    1. Exactly what I was trying to say, Grace. Thanks for your input! :)

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  2. Kara, this is an inspiring and TRUE post. You're awesome for sharing your thoughts on the topic.

    I read one from Anne Elisabeth Stengel that sounds similar to Krista's also and as a girl who constantly "worries" about this in her own writing, the ideas and post was inspiring to read. So what if the story is predictable?? It's how the author sees the story or how well the characters come alive that makes it original. I'd rather read a predictable book (in the sense, as you say, that we know how it'll end), then just swept up in the story only to have my heart broken by that last page.

    Call me sappy but there's nothing better than a happy ending. :)

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    1. Aw, thanks Rissi! :) And I'm a big fan of happy endings myself. So I'll be sappy right there with you.

      It was very inspiring to be reminded that no matter what you write, you'll make it your own. Simply because you're writing it! Everyone puts their own spin on a story, no matter how well-known the original is. And yes! I would so much rather read a predictable book, than to have my heart broken by the end. To end with disappointment is not fun.

      These sorts of posts/articles are so encouraging, aren't they? :)

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  3. There's definitely something to be said about this! Retellings are often fabulous because you know a bit of it, but the journeys are so different from each other! Like you said, Cinder is such a great example of this! Of course there's people who don't do a great job, but luckily I've come across some rather awesome ones :) Enjoyed this post!

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    1. Thanks, Jamie! I've been fortunate to come across several awesome ones myself! I do admit to reading some disappointing ones as well, but overall my experience with re-tellings has been fabulous. Plus it's just so encouraging to remember that we all have the ability to make a story our own, regardless of what inspired it. :)

      Thanks for reading!

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  4. So right! There are many different retellings with intriguing twists. Fairy tale ones are the best. :) I've heard the title Cruel Beauty, but I didn't realize that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. That is one of my favorite fairy tales; I'll have to read this one. :)

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    1. Oh Ashley, you really DO need to read Cruel Beauty! I don't know if you saw my review or not, but it is a fabulous story! Especially if you love the original fairy tale. :)

      Thanks for reading!

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  5. I personally like predictable as long as it's well written. It's something that comes to me from watching many soap operas, I like how in those stories you know exactly how it's gonna end just by the first episode. there is comfort in that.

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    1. Comfort. I think you hit the nail on the head with that, Alex! It really is comforting when you know the story and how it will end. Excellent point! :)

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