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 clichés 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! :)