Spoiler Etiquette

Posted July 30, 2008 by Holly in Discussions | 13 Comments


I fully admit that I’m a Spoiler Ho. I have no problem whatsoever if you spoil a story for me. None. As a matter of fact, I almost always want the story to be spoiled. When I say, “Dude, tell me what happens” I really mean, “Dude, tell me what happens”. I have a couple friends who HATE spoilers. HATE THEM HATE THEM HATE THEM. When they say, “Dude, tell me what happens” what they really mean is, “I’m uber curious but if you tell me I will kill you deader than a doornail.”

Because I respect that, I try to be cautious about revealing spoilers. If I feel I just have to share (which is sometimes the case) I try to clearly mark them as such, and even try to black them out when possible. But I was thinking today..what do you consider spoilers?

I don’t consider things that happen in the first few chapters spoilers. Well, let me qualify that and say most of the time. There are exceptions (like it’s the 3rd book in a series and the main character dies in the 2nd chapter, then yeah, major spoiler), but if it pertains to the story in a small way..well, I don’t consider that a spoiler.

As an example: I was telling Nath about a book yesterday and mentioned something about how they met and what ended up being one of their major conflicts. The thing is, the back blurb alludes to it and it’s revealed in the first few chapters (though it’s not resolved until much later in the story) so I didn’t feel bad telling her about it.

I know some of you have mentioned hating to even read the blurb of a book for fear of being spoiled, so I’m curious: What’s acceptable and what’s not? Is a spoiler a spoiler a spoiler, or is it ok to tell a little bit about the story in general?

Then again, I’m the one that always reads the last chapter of a book before starting the first, so….


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13 responses to “Spoiler Etiquette

  1. I don’t consider the set up for a book to be a spoiler. Anything that happens within the first couple of chapters to build the actual story is fair game with me, unless there is something that happens early on that is meant to be kept from the reader. I would never spoil or want to be spoiled by a surprise.

  2. *raising hand*

    Hello, my name is azteclady, and I’m violently and virulently allergic to spoilers. (On the plus side, I never say, “tell me what happens!” unless I really don’t care.)

    Sometimes the back blurb spoils the book–not often, mind, since the back blurb rarely has anything to do with the actual story, anyway–but when it does… argh! Let me at ’em!

    *ahem*

    With very few exceptions, I would consider the first couple of chapters to be the set up for the novel, and therefore necessary to write the review–after all, what use would it be to say “these are wonderful characters who grow and mature through the novel” if we don’t even know what the novel is about?

    There are of course some things that I feel it’s important to get out there even if they may give away a bit of the story–for example, if there is rape or other sexual violence, or excessive gore, I’ll note that. I prefer giving away a tad too much than having some readers feel ambushed by these things–as I know has happened to a couple of people I know.

    Does that answer your question? (does it even make sense? *wink*)

  3. Dev

    Spoilers don’t bother me. Holly, you are so not the only person who reads the last chapter before starting a book! Although, if I do write my thoughts out and I can’t think of anyway to describe the book without the spoilers, I always put a spoiler alert above and below my paragraphs.

  4. Ing

    I do not mind spoilers one bit. I am a spoiler whore, I tell you! For me spoiler helps me prepare for the book better. In Zsadists book I knew Wellsie was going to die 6 months before the book ever came out and I was so glad that I knew this because it prepared me for it. I got to rant and rave and get over it and enjoy the book. It didn’t take away from the wrenching pain when I read Wellsie’s death scene or Tohrs reaction to it afterwards. So where spoilers are concern I have no preference. When I write my reviews of course that will be different I’ll respect my audience and not spill the whole enchilda.

    And you are not alone Holly. I read the ending, middle, and beginning of a book then I go scan for the sex before I even decide to pick up a book. I figure I’m spending money so I want to make extra sure I’m going to enjoy it.

  5. Wow Holly we must be twins πŸ™‚
    I always want to know what happens, peek the end of most books and check the middle to see if the actions goes where I think it should. Not with all books but definitely with most books!

    I also think that what is mentioned in the back blurb and first chapters isn’t really spoilers, the first is there so people might see if they like it and the second is usually the set up and not the actual action. At least that’s how I see it… people who hate spoilers might see it differently…

  6. Anonymous

    IMHO, since everyone’s tolerance for spoilers varies wildly and (much more importantly) you can’t UNspoil yourself, the most polite, considerate thing to do, always, is to warn for spoilers.

    Spoiler-phobes like me have absolutely nothing against other people discussing spoilers to their hearts content, all we ask is for fair warning so we can look away or hit the back button before we’re irrevocably spoiled. Anything that’s on the back cover copy, IMHO, isn’t a spoiler, but if it’s any sort of surprise, something you didn’t see coming when you read it, and that affects your view of the stuff that comes before, why not give others the same opportunity?

    When I choose to read a book review, I assume a certain level of spoilage for book details, but I really appreciate at least a SPOILER ALERT so I’ve got the opportunity to turn back, if I want. Outside of book reviews, however, I really don’t like to be surprised.

    The thing that people who like (or don’t care about) spoilers don’t seem to get is that you can always choose to go from unspoiled to spoiled, wherever that line happens to be for you. But I can’t un-know certain information. Even if it doesn’t affect your reading experience, some of us, for some books or films or TV shows really prefer to get the plot points/bits of info at the pace the creator intended.

    It’s always the polite thing to do (and it takes you *maybe* ten extra seconds) to err on the side of caution and alert for spoilers. Doing so robs you and the people reading your review of absolutely nothing, but *not* doing so robs people who prefer to remain unspoiled of that opportunity.

  7. C2

    I don’t mind spoilers. I don’t usually seek them out – except for things like who gets the next book in a series and stuff like that. I love the early info leaks like that – like I would give a great big cyber-hug to anyone who could tell me the lead couple in the next Troubleshooters book. πŸ˜€ Overall feel of a book, a few teasers about happenings, that something big happens (but not what) – that’s all good, says me.

    For me, the unacceptable spoilers are the ones that reveal something the whole book hinges on (holy poorly written sentence, Batman). Or something totally out-of -the blue wrenching – like Wellsey’s death. I recently hooked a friend on the BDB books and she just finished Z’s book today…she was not happy. Would me telling her about Wellsey made her enjoy the book less? Probably not. But who I am to take away from her experience, you know? Apparently, if it makes me cry, I want everyone else to cry too. πŸ˜‰

  8. Rowena

    LOL AL!

    As for me, I used to be allergic to spoilers but thanks to the influence of my book friends, I’m all about them now.

    Spoil away, is what I say. It doesn’t take away from the book for me if it’s a romance but if it’s like a mystery (which I don’t read a lot of anyway) I usually tend to stay away from spoiling the book or wanting to be spoiled.

  9. I generally avoid spoilers, but book blurbs are fine, and in most cases anything in the first few chapters is acceptable. I appreciate when reviewers give warning for any major spoilers (I try to do the same in mine) so I can decide to skip them. Sometimes I do read them if its for a book that’s not on my hot list.

    I’m the one that always reads the last chapter of a book before starting the first,
    Oh! You’re one of THOSE! ;p
    I do have the bad habit of sometimes just ‘flipping’ ahead without really reading… and have spoiled something major on myself. No one to blame but myself for those …

  10. Sometimes I like spoilers, sometimes I don’t. Usually I’d prefer *not* to know unless I just can’t stand the suspense.

    I’m the polar opposite of Holly when it comes to spoilers.

  11. Chantal

    I don’t like spoilers. I like to read a book myself to find out what is going to happen.

    When it comes to reading reviews, I check to see who has written it before I’ll read it. If the person is one to give away the whole book, then I’ll just not read the review.
    But only if I plan to read that book myself. If the book is not in my TBR or to buy list, then I may or may not skim the review. For the most part, if I know the review will have spoilers, I skip it.

  12. I just left a rambling hate-spoiler comment at Karen Knows Best, and will try to behave here since it’s my first visit here =D

    I totally agree with anonymous about giving spoiler review warnings, since it’s obvious by your post and the comments that some people do indeed enjoy spoilers.

    I believe they’ve been practicing spoiler warnings for TV shows and movies ever since newsgroup days. I can’t wait until it’s common practice with book reviews.

    Giving spoiler warnings would make almost everyone happy on both sides.

  13. I appreciate all of you giving me your input. So it’s been decided then – talking about the plot or things that happen in the chapter or so (for the most part) are fine, but anything else is considered major spoiler territory and should be avoided at all costs – or marked clearly. Gotcha.

    πŸ˜‰

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