Sometimes a Spoiler is Just What You Need

I don’t like spoilers.

Take movies, for an example. If there’s a particular movie I know I want to see, then I do absolutely everything possible to avoid watching even a single frame of it before the big day. I want to wait until it’s in the theaters, where I can sit down with two-gallon drink, a lawn bag full of popcorn, and enjoy it properly.

Think about it from the writer or director’s perspective. As the story unfolds, each scene is carefully designed to carry the viewers forward, with just enough information to keep them interested but without revealing too much (thus reducing or even eliminating the impact of the story’s climax). This carefully calculated dissemination of the plot — trust me — does not come easy.

So why waste all that hard work by revealing the entire movie in the trailer? We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in the theater, hand in the lawn bag of popcorn, mouth on a three-foot-long straw, when that big green PREVIEW box illuminates the theater. In the next two and a half minutes, you’re introduced to the characters, their backstory, their conflict, and at least two or three scenes from the critical resolution. You turn to your friend, and what do you say? “Well, guess there’s no need to see that movie.”

Spoiler Alert

I mean, I get it. Not every movie is a self-marketing, why-even-bother-making-a-trailer, Star Wars: The Force Awakens magnet. The vast majority of films need to give potential viewers at least a glimpse of the story to generate interest if not genuine excitement.

Spoiler alert: nothing I’m working on is a self-marketing, why-even-bother type of project. No one is clamoring for the 1,719,535th novel to be released this year. So I’m in that majority of content providers that must give a glimpse to generate interest among potential readers.

That’s why one of the promises I made to myself when I launched this blog was to no longer force my fan(s) to wait interminably for a completed manuscript. Instead, I vowed to “spoil” things a little here, a little there along the way.

I avoided this in the past on my other blogs for largely irrational reasons. “Oh, if I post all my story ideas, someone will steal them and then they’ll write my books and eventually get all my Hugo awards!” Let’s get real. I can barely get people to visit the site let alone steal anything from it.

So without further and undue ado, here we go! As promised last week, I’m posting an excerpt from a work in progress. Please to enjoy!

Chapter One

The sky was getting dark and the clouds and the rain were kind of rolling in too. Mr. Sanders walked into his new kitchen that he didn’t like a couple years ago and so he made some phone calls and hired a contractor and then got it updated with new appliances and a new counter and a new floor for him to walk on when he needed to do that. Like now when he walked into his new kitchen in the growing darkness.

Except this time something wasn’t going on right. It was getting very dark. He went to turn on the light switch that also got replaced from the old one when the kitchen was getting updated. The new light switch was white and complimented the warm brown wall a lot more than when the old switch was just kind of a brown one on a different kind of brown wall. He flipped the switch and the light didn’t come on! Mr. Sanders got a little frightened and maybe even a little bit scared too because it was dark and there was rain and the light didn’t come on so he decided to leave the remodeled kitchen and go to bed instead. What would you do? I thought so!

The next morning it was okay. He had a crazy dream about his briefcase. But then when he went back to the kitchen he didn’t think of the dream any more. “I’m hungry!” he announced, as if talking to an empty room or a briefcase. “I didn’t get to eat last night because of the light not working and getting scared and stuff.” His new appliances looked as if they were looking at him and listening to his words. “I also didn’t sleep good not because of just the briefcase, but because I thought I heard wolves in the distance but maybe when I hear sounds I’m just imagining them.”

“How about some toast?” His toaster suggested. But not really. That’s just like a metaphor because toasters can’t talk. Yet! But Mr. Sanders heard the toaster’s imaginary suggestion and so he put in some toast. Well, but except it was bread first. Then toast later after the orange things inside light up and do their magic! When the toast popped up after a long time (it seemed like a long time because he kept staring at it and it wouldn’t come up while he stared at it.) When it popped up, Mr. Sanders immediately stopped thinking about those wolves and thought about what to put on the toast. He made a list and recited it aloud.

“Butter. Jelly. Butter and jelly. Butter. Butter? Peanut butter. Yes, that’s it!” He said out loud and all his appliances including the toaster agreed. He gingerly lifted a knife from the block of wood that holds his knives and he put it in the peanut butter and then moved the peanut butter from the jar to the bread which is now dry because it’s toast because of the hot orange things inside the toaster.

Suddenly there was a loud noise outside! The sound of many large and heavy paws galloping across the ground. It wasn’t Mr. Sanders’ imagination. It was wolves. Real wolves heading toward him to perform unimaginable violence as wolves sometimes might do under the appropriate circumstances. More frightened than before, Mr. Sanders shouted out: “I HOPE EVERYONE ENJOYS APRIL FOOLS DAY 2016!!!” The toaster nodded in agreement before adding, “And I just hope everyone tunes in next week for Charlie’s real book excerpt!”

9 Comments for “Sometimes a Spoiler is Just What You Need”

says:

Ha! Man, I gave you a little too long, thinking “well, this is what first drafts are FOR” before remembering what day it was. Well played, sir.

Charlie

says:

Well, I went on a bit long too. I originally envisioned it being shorter, but frankly ended up having too much fun with it. My main concern? People giving up before the punchline (and never returning!)

says:

OMG, I am laughing my ass off Charlie. As I was reading it, I was actually saying to myself “Charlie is a much better writer than this!”

Can’t wait for the real deal next week!

Charlie

says:

I’m just hoping I can find the time to pull a post together. It’s been exceeding difficult to do lately. It’s like I post something, turn around, and suddenly 160 hours have flown by and it’s time for the next one. Looking forward to life returning to normal.

says:

Totally made me LOL. I was thinking, “man, his blog posts are better than his novel. Well what is his target audience? Would this appeal to kids??” I really enjoy your writing, no matter whether its real or not 🙂

Charlie

says:

I’ve had one or two requests to roll this out into a full length novel. Who knows, if I don’t get anywhere with my real ones, this might just be the fallback.

And for reference, Mr. Sanders made his first pubic appearance on an old Elsewhither blog post. (And before that, Mr. Sanders was a voice character I made up for my kids when they were little, easily ten or more years ago.)

says:

I just went back and read the other Mr. Sanders story. It reminds me of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Maybe you’ve got a screenplay in the works!

Mary

says:

I really started enjoying the story when you started talking about the remodeled kitchen. 😉 Gotta know your audience. Thanks for the laugh.

Charlie

says:

Yeah, preparing our current home for imminent sale helped form the idea of a remodeled kitchen for this scene. That, and I took the peanut butter toast photo in another newly-remodeled kitchen.

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