My Thoughts On Spoilers

[PHOTO NOTE: I typed in “Spoilers” in the Pexel image search and this is what popped up first. Appropriate.]

A week or so ago, I ran across a review of the movie Nope online. I’m a fan of horror – not a surprise. I’m a fan of movie reviews – also not a surprise. Also, I happen to be a fan of the movie’s director, Jordan Peele, ever since his Key and Peele days. So, I was interested in reading through it.

I did read over the review. I liked it, but I also saw a feature article that went into a plot point that didn’t seem to have any relevance to the main movie. However, I thought it explained and analyzed this particular plot point quite well – I mean, we were talking Roger Ebert-level analysis. As I sometimes do, I decided to post the article on my writing pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Here is the article in question. Beware of spoilers.

At the time I posted it, I was a bit worried about doing so. It was a very good article, but because of the nature of that article, it revealed some massive spoilers about not only major plot points, but even the outcome of the entire movie.

I mention this, because I know that there are many people who are horrified at spoilers and want to avoid them like the plague or warm pop. They structure their entire lives around not putting themselves in situations where they might hear something about films, television, or books before they have had the chance to consume that particular story. They even go so far as berate their own friends and family against possibly revealing anything about those stories. Here’s an example of that behavior as well. (I loved Portlandia, especially since I am a Sleater-Kinney fan. Just Google everything I mentioned if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The video sketch about spoilers does, in fact, contain actual spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.]

(This was my first attempt to embed something in one of my blogs. I’m quite proud of it LOL.)

So, I am well aware of some people’s feelings about spoilers. In fact, I know that if I ever found myself in the same situation as these people,

I would not be able to care less.

Yes. I, in fact, am the complete opposite of the people I mentioned above. I am perfectly fine with spoilers, I have no issue with them whatsoever. My recent experience with this article started me thinking about exactly why that might be the case.

To begin that journey, we have to travel back exactly 40 years into the past to go back to my first experience with a spoiler. (Yes, I’m an older guy). Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan just happened to be in the theaters. I had seen the first one either in the theaters or on HBO – I think it was the latter because we had HBO (the old cable channel) for a few years in the early 1980’s.

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I was a big fan of libraries as a kid. One of my other favorite places to go when I was a kid was bookstores. There was one sizable bookstore in my hometown mall (Waldenbooks) and whenever I would go to the mall, I would go and see what some of the new books were. I would make sure that I actually bought a book every once in a while so the clerks there didn’t think that I was just loitering in there for no reason. (To be fair, they never did have a word with me.)

I went there maybe less than a month before I would see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in theaters. As it turned out, I found a copy of the novelization of the movie on the science fiction shelves. Novelizations are books based on the screenplay of a movie that often gets commissioned with the intent of making a few extra bucks and helping to promote the films as well1.

It was then, as I was skimming through the book, that I came upon the biggest spoiler of not only the movie, but possibly the entire Star Trek series. As a courtesy, I will not reveal that spoiler here, even if the idea of a spoiler for a movie that was released forty years previously seems ridiculous to me2. So, did that spoiler ruin my possible enjoyment of the film, even so much so that I might have been tempted not to watch it at all?

Reader, it did not.

When the film finally got released, I was in a line at the Riviera Theater in Muscatine with my parents ready to watch the movie. It was one of the old time theaters that used to be everywhere in the US but eventually shut down.

From what I was able to look up, this had been opened as the Uptown Theater back on 4 November 1931. It was renamed the Bosten Cinema on 3 February 1971, and renamed one last time on 3 April 1983 as the Riviera Theater. This picture dates from 1988, two years before the building was demolished3.

Anyway, I watched it and I loved it intensely. I knew what was coming and I was internally jumping up and down with excitement when I saw it unfold on the screen. The fact that I knew it was coming had no dampening effect on my enjoyment whatsoever. I was just as excited as everyone else who was seeing it the first time.

There have been other examples of this through my life. I remember watching a video a few years back that showed a long line of Harry Potter enthusiasts in line outside a bookstore waiting to get their hands on a copy of the latest book in the series. The videographer and driver of the vehicle rolled down his window and shouted out a major plot point to that very novel to the crowd. You could easily hear the shrieks of rage and disappointment as he drove away.

I would never be someone to do such a thing to those who do not like spoilers. But I have to admit I cackled for a long time as I rewound the video more than once.

I’ve given some thought as to why spoilers don’t bother me as they do other people. Although I can’t speak for other people who don’t mind spoilers to stories, as for myself I believe there are two reasons in particular why they don’t bother me.


If you look at the history of literature – any type of literature, to be honest – you begin to see different ideas or themes that repeat themselves in different stories. There’s a situation where something improbable resolves a story. There is the situation where items in stories often occur in groups of three (like the idea of a love triangle). There also something where characters often have to go on a journey.

These patterns keep repeating because they’ve been part of our storytelling culture for centuries, even millennia in some cases. It gets people’s attention, it’s familiar to them. They play toward the myths and stories that have been circulating around campfires since at least the latter parts of the Stone Age. People want the new and original and unique, this is true. But, they also crave the familiar as well. From that perspective, spoilers are a part of our culture.

The Mechanic Theory of Enjoying A Story

I’ve come to the conclusion that I read like a writer – or, at least, I try to. As I read something, it’s natural for me to take apart the narrative somewhat like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works or what is wrong with it. I want to see how they use dialogue or description to set the stage for a story, and how they build characters, for example.

As I do that, it becomes less of an issue for me what type of ending or surprise that might be waiting for me in the story. I believe that as a result of this focus, this interest I have in analyzing stories, I don’t really respond too much to surprises in the text. Relying too much on surprises or spoiler-level material in a story is a horror-film director relying on jump-scares to keep the audience interested. I’m more interested in how the storyteller gets to the ending or surprises rather than just the result itself. Someone who takes a turbocharger apart for a living or hobby doesn’t get too surprised to see it in action after you finish repairs.

So, I will do my best not to have any obvious spoilers on this page, in any capacity. But, don’t worry about doing the same for me.

1. They still do this, in fact. I was hearing some reviewers say that the novelizations for the third Star Wars trilogy gave a lot more background and context to what happened to be a confusing mess. I still don’t understand how Disney decided to commission a new Star Wars trilogy and not have an overarching plot planned out for it, especially considering how much money they spent on it. I mean, maybe it’s my bias of being a writer and wanting to get your story sorted out, but oh, well.
2. However, I have to keep in perspective that there are many people who are not as aware of the past as I am, whether it is due to not reading up on the past or, more often, not having lived through that past. That became clear to me several years ago when I looked out into a class of language arts students that I was teaching and realized that none of them had any direct knowledge of the 20th century whatsoever.

3. In remembering this, I think the old theater and whatever fragmentary remembrances that I have of it might be worth another A Writer’s Biography blog.

Writing Journal 10.13.2019: Holding steady

Just like the title says, holding steady.


Even the photo is a little bit holding steady. It’s another shot of one of my bookcases. (As always, shout out if you recognize a book and/or see one of your favorites.)

Again, this will be short.

Things are still going. I haven’t had the chance to do too many public events since the summer – it’s a bit off to try and do publicity as a local writer when I’m not likely to be living in my local area by this time next year. It will be interesting to live closer to Des Moines – I’ve heard good things about the writing community there.

I’ll also try and connect with writers in my own local community, but since it will be about half the population of my current town, and there is a strong but quite small group of writers there, I’m frankly not sure what I will find. (If there are any writers from the Lucas County, Iowa area, I’d love to hear from you.)

Not much new to report from my past few weekly journals, so I won’t repeat myself.

I’m glad texting exists because my wife feels like she is around even if she isn’t. ❤️

The #USMNT beating Cuba 7-0 was a cool soccer match.

The stats to finish off (not much difference from the past few weeks):

+6,420 words written.

Days writing: 5 of 7.

Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 180 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7  of 7 days.

I’ve started writing a Wonderdraft review that I’m going to work and try and put out this week. (Fingers crossed?)


See you later.

Writing Journal 8.11.2019: This time the numbers really don’t tell the story

Hi, everyone,

I realize that these weekly posts may get a bit tedious at times, and at times repetitive. However, there is a purpose to all of this tracking and journal-keeping – keeping myself publicly responsible for the work (or lack of work) I do as a writer. It’s been a big help to me as far as keeping me writing, even if the amount of work that comes out is a trickle.

Speaking of that:

+710 words written.

Days writing: 2 of 7.

Days revising/planning: 4 of 7 for  300 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

I’ve had worse, but definitely not as good as I’ve had the past couple of weeks. Let’s set that aside for a moment.

I want to switch things up on these weekly journals a little, so I’ll try different things here. How about this list: the stuff that I keep saying I’m going to do here, sometimes for a month or more, stuff I should get done, but haven’t. In no particular order:

  • Trimming the bushes at my place. (This needs to happen before my wife gets back home).
  • Doing more to my Project B something other than just looking at it. (See here for the guide to what I’m writing.)
  • Seeing if the Writer’s Handbook might be a good alternative to the Writer’s Market.
  • Writing some new poetry.
  • Deciding to start writing these fracking posts on Saturday rather than on Sunday because I should know that I bug out on watching soccer on the weekends and they can easily wind up being lost weekends.
  • Related to the above, I talked recently about how obsessed I am about soccer. That’s the inspiration for my current Project A. For a laugh, here’s me representing my number one team, the US National team:

How big of a soccer nerd am I? I was actually relieved when they changed to the new logo you see here. The team’s old badge was straight trash.

  • Reading other writing WordPress blogs.
  • Making more progress on my other projects.

On the other hand, there’s been a few things that I got done this week that I was happy 😃 with. Again, in no particular order:

  • I’m having another person beta-read Project A. That should be done in another week or so. Then, I’m going to have to consider having a pro proofreader go over it. I have no idea how much that might be, but I want to look into it.
  • I found out about a poetry contest from one of my writer friends. I’m going to enter it, because why not? We’ll see how it goes.
  • I finally got restarted on Project S. I should be finished with it by the end of this week. After that, who knows? I’ll talk about it later.
  • I’ve actually started reading through a good portion of The Writer’s Handbook. I think I might actually do a review of it here.
  • The featured photo on this post are some of the books in my personal collection. Give me a shoutout if you’re a fan of any of them.
  • I got this finished before midnight. Yea, me.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 7.22.2018: Revision City

In looking at last week’s numbers, you can tell that I’m getting deep into the revision game.

+1,303 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 6 out of 7 for [EDIT] 510 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 7 out of 7 days.

I’d have to look, but this might be the best week I’ve recorded regarding revisions, and I’m nowhere near done. It’s definitely the first time in a long time that I met my DWGM every day of the week.

The thing that kicked off this spurt of activity was the feedback I’d gotten from one of my beta readers I really respect. That and some of the other comments I’ve received made it very clear where I should be going with this revision on The American Nine.

The good thing is that to give my character more of a struggle along this path, I’m not going to have to add any additional material. (Version 3.0 of the manuscript is hovering at around 93,000 words – I’ve said before about how I want to keep my finished manuscripts at a maximum of 95,000-100,000 words, preferably on the lower end of that scale). It’s just going to be a matter of me rewriting scenes to show more uncertainty and struggle. I realized that while I wanted to create an idea of the American Messi or Maradona with this character, the character is 17 at the start of the book and like Messi and Maradona, they had to work and rise to the top to get where they were. I have to show that process in this book.

Two random notes to close things out:

  • How much of a soccer fanatic am I? I’m seriously following the International Champions Cup that started this week. Also, it’s transfer rumor silliness time…
  • Trying to get into some new TV obsessions. Starting to pick through Stranger Things. Also saw a new trailer for the Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans MC. I’m going to be hyped for that in September.

Anyway, more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 6.24.2018: A productive but really random week

Well, this turned out pretty weird:

+3,913 words written.

Days writing: 4 out of 7.

Days revising: 1 out of 7 for 30 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 out of 7 days.

Not expecting quite those numbers this week. Let me explain.

This week, I had planned to do a little bit of writing on my next project and perhaps a little light editing on The American Nine. What actually wound up happening is that I posted two blogs within a week, one my first photo entry and another about one of my older poems.

Then I wound taking a look at an abandoned short story from years back which combined two of my obsessions, alternative history and late 20th century professional wrestling. What I ended up writing after two feverish days was a 4,000 word-plus short story speculating how the avoidance of a premature death could have changed the course of professional wrestling history. The operatic psychological storytelling behind professional wrestling has always fascinated me when it’s done right, and the action is over the top. The whole story I’ve written is probably ridiculous but I’ll post it later today – watch out for it.

Random Notes:

  • I am planning on going to this conference Thursday and Saturday of this week (missing out on Friday). I figure that I will write at least one post about it, likely sometime Saturday, and let you know how it all went.
  • The American Nine has officially gone out to the beta readers in my local writers group. Who the hell knows what they will make of it (I’m one of the youngest members of that group), but I did warn them, so anyone who reads it is going in with their eyes open.
  • As someone who’s written a fiction book featuring soccer, I have been paying close attention to the World Cup. I put some money on it, but I have no idea whether I’ll actually win anything. When Iceland can tie Argentina, Portugal tie Spain, and Germany narrowly escape being eliminated by Sweden, who the hell knows what’s going to happen. The games have been great but Fox Sports has done a crap job of covering the events with the exception of the team of JP Dellacamera and Tony Meola. (I remember watching Meola in goal for the USMNT back in 1994. How time moves…)

That’s all I can think of for now. Watch for more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 6.16.2018: Hanging around and waiting

Yeah, so, another lag on the writing front:

+1,239 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 out of 7 days.

It’s been worse, but I’ve seen better.

I think the theme of this week is going to be waiting. That might explain a little bit of the lag. Also… not that I’m depressed, but if you’re down or not able to go out and about as much as you normally would, that’s not conducive to writing, is it? I never got the idea of being inspired by being depressed – if I’m in a not-positive mood, it’s more difficult for me to write, not less.

[I’m fine right now; don’t worry about me. 👍🏻🙂]

Anyway, back to the waiting [and writing, mixed in with Random Notes because why not]:

  • Most of that waiting is related to my book in revision, The American Nine. I’m planning on making it available for some beta readers in my local writing group next week, but I won’t get the full results of that until our meeting next month. I’m interested to see what sort of feedback I get from them.
  • Also, there’s that writers’s conference I talked about before. However, that’s not until next week. I’m looking forward to the opportunity for a professional critique on what I’ve been working on, and actually pitching on it to the MWC Press as well. As for the latter situation, I’m not expecting to get published by them or anything, but I still think that the experience of pitching my project to people is invaluable.
  • Due to both budget constraints and a lack of workshops that would fit my interests, I’m only planning on attending two out of the three days (which helps on fuel expenses). I think I’ll likely recount how the conference goes here (sort of an after-action recap) here on the blog.
  • Despite waiting on the beta readers, I’ve been doing a tiny bit of tinkering with The American Nine. One of the alterations that I made was a change in the name of a supporting character that just sort of sat there for me before. Now I think it works, though. But I’m curious – you ever had a situation where you forgot what you renamed a character and actually had to go back to the manuscript and remind yourself what the new name was? That just happened to me this morning.
  • The rest of the projects I’ve talked about recently and there’s not much movement on them, so I’ll spare you the repeat stories. I have to admit that I have a habit of repeating stories IRL, as my kids and students can recount. So, I try to be wary of doing the same thing online.
  • I have to admit that the World Cup starting this week has been a distraction. But it’s a good distraction. Besides, how would I have gotten The American Nine into being if not for my soccer obsession? So, that’s non-negotiable for me. 😎

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back later. Thanks to everyone that’s been visiting and reading my stuff for the past year; I appreciate it very much.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 6.10.2018: Holding sort of steady

If you were waiting for me to make a post today, sorry I didn’t get to it until now. It’s interesting that I now have around 70 people following me on WordPress at this moment. (I have around 300 each for my Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to writing.)

The numbers:

+1,556 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 90 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 4 out of 7 days.

So, pretty much holding somewhat steady for the week, down in revising days and DWGM, but up a little in writing.

Not much to talk about this week, so I’ll go over a few things (RANDOM NOTES) and leave it at that.

  • I decided to go to that conference later this month in the Quad Cities. It cost a little bit, but I think it will be worth it for the networking and having some more people beta read my stuff.
  • Revising is still slow on We Can Be You… but I’ve started from the beginning again and have made some progress from there. Now that I’ve determined that it is going to be a three-book story and roughly where I’m going to split the action at, the secret is figuring out the motivation for the main characters in my band and how that gets resolved in the first book. I think I have that pretty much resolved in my head and will be willing to go into that very shortly.
  • Looks like Friday of this week will be the day my town’s library will reopen in a brand new location. I look forward to spending time there and will get some interior shots for when that happens. Might even do some writing there.
  • This week, I plan to tour my new school that I will be teaching at next fall. Also, I’ll see if I have any “summer homework” to consider before classes start. I’m excited about that new opportunity.

That’s it for now; more later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes, 6.3.2018: New Milestone and Increased Activity

With me now on full vacation and some ideas shaking loose from old projects, I think that it was reflected in my activity this week.

+1,354 words written.

Days writing: 3 out of 7.

Days revising: 4 out of 7 for 300 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 5 out of 7 days.

Not a lot of original writing, of course, but I am keeping active. I’m going to keep the journal update brief this week, both due to the level of new info I have to share (not much) and the desire not to repeat myself (which is strong).

  • I have reached a milestone on my work for The American Nine after about 1 1/2 revisions to the book. Over the next month or so, I’m hoping to have beta readers from my writing group and possibly others have a chance to take a look at what I’ve produced and give me some comments. (I might revisit the topic of beta readers in a later post).
  • As far as other projects, I want to keep busy. There are two possibilities – We Can Be You…, which I’ve already discussed, and an old project that I’ve rechristened Excitable Boy to see if the name fits and if there’s enough story there to support something. Right now the latter project is at 50,000 words – shorter than most of my recent stuff – and I suspect there’s some things to cut and some things I might need to add.
  • My intent with the second point is to not get caught up in not producing or revising something and keeping busy with the work. I was very happy this year that I didn’t have any major declines or dead times of not writing or revising. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep that up when the next school year comes up and my new job. I think that I should be able to manage that.

Just a few Random Notes:

  • Looking into what format I might want to start reading e-books in. Considering how I might be publishing in the e-book format soon and many of the writers I’m running into online are doing that, I might want to consider it. (That also might be worth its own blog post later).
  • Getting in a lot of soccer watching on the weekends – will watch the World Cup even though the US won’t be in it, and Major League Soccer is still deep into its season here in the US.
  • I’ve recently noticed that when I get bored or start feeling down about things, getting more sleep is a good remedy to reset your mind. Probably helps healthwise, as well.

I’ll write some more when I have some more to write.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.27.2018: Getting back in the groove as vacation starts

So… I was kind of lazing around for the past few weeks, but things… sort of picked up this week?

+502 words written.

Days writing: 1 out of 7.

Days revising: 2 out of 7 for 180 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goal Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 3 out of 7 days.

So, there’s that. Less writing, but more revising. So, I want to talk about where I am at with the three writing projects I’m actively working on, then get into some RANDOM NOTES. 🙂

  • The Holy Fool: I’ve been in contact with a publishing company for the past few months. Basically, it’s now at the point where we are bouncing cover ideas off each other. As soon as I have signed a full contract with them and getting everything set as far as number of pages, etc., I will give the full details on it. The upshot is, as I might have said previously, is that my goal of being a published author by the end of the year looks to be on target.
  • The American Nine: I am now in the process of rereading the manuscript. It is a light revision – the idea is to cut any unnecessary wording as I see it and see what would be absolutely necessary to add. I am also looking for anything that I need to add to the story. My initial thoughts on this area is that I need to add some scenes – maybe “moments” would be a better description of that, as they might not have to be too long – that illustrate the ferocity of my main character’s father and the type of dominant personality he is. I don’t think I’ve shown that enough. Also, I need to expand at least one scene that shows that father discuss with his son, for the first time, his son’s sexuality. Usually in revision, my aim is to cut stuff – and I’ve already made a couple of subplots disappear during this process – but I will also have to add on things. It’s a good thing I still have 5,500 or so words before I hit the 100,000-mark, isn’t it?
    Also, my local writing group is going to do a critique of it two months from now, and I’m interested in seeing their input.
  • We Can Be You…: I’ve now come around to how I can make the first book in what I’m projecting to be a three-book series interesting. I want to focus on the collaborative and friendship-based bonds between my band’s members rather than who they eventually end up with romantically. That I can save for the next two books in the series. So, I believe that I will be restarting the rough draft very soon.

That’s it for the projects; now, it’s time for Random Notes:

  • My summer vacation has officially started, giving me more time to write and help my wife out with projects. With that in mind, I can see myself doing at least two posts per week, but not being too much of a yammerer here. If you just want to see me post interesting random stuff connected to writing I find online, you can check out my Facebook and Twitter pages. (I also cross-post all of the blog posts from here on those pages, too.)
  • This conference is happening near me later this month. I’ve been to two of them before, and got something out of them. I likely will sign up for a couple of things and leave it at that to save cash.
  • It’s the end of the month, and I know what time it is – time to schedule some posts for the month of June for the Facebook and Twitter pages. I’ll try to find some cool stuff.

More later.

Writing Journal/Random Notes 5.20.2018: Officially blocked?

Well, here’s what happened last week in the official extension of my “vacation” :

+1,572 words written.

Days writing: 2 out of 7.

Days revising: 0 out of 7 for 0 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of revisions): 2 out of 7 days.

writing notes idea class

[Pictured: What I’m not doing.]

These, I believe, are the factors behind the pause:

  1. I honestly had to take a break from The American Nine for a bit while I let the project sit for a bit. I think I am feeling more confident in taking another look at it and seeing what I can remove from it as being not needed. (One thing I realized two days ago, however, is that I believe I need to add a scene – or add to an existing scene – a confrontation between my MC and his father regarding his sexuality. I don’t want to make it a cliched standoff between straight dad and LGBT son, but I think I can take it into a better examination of how many of the personal choices my MC has made were a result of trying not to make the same mistakes as his father did, and his father trying to understand how it applies to his situation. It’s a characterization moment I can’t miss out on.
  2. I made the decision to try and move forward with We Can Be You… but I realized I’m more excited about the idea of the prospective third book in that series than the second or first. I think one of the reasons the rough drafting of The American Nine went so quickly and well was that I concentrated on writing just the parts that excited me, which told me what was worth keeping and what was not worth keeping. However, that is a bit more of a challenge over a series of books. I have to think about that one.

So, that’s what I have faced, but I think that this week I will start to turn that around.

Quick Random Notes:

  • I have now solidified my job situation. I will be leaving my district due to budget cuts and start work at a new district, contract in hand. Having all of that resolved is a big load off my mind, and with this being my last week of school, I will be getting into the writing mix soon.
  • This big conference sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center in the Quad Cities is coming up. Will have to check bank account and other financials to see if there is interest. I’ve been there twice and I have found the experience beneficial.
  • The Holy Fool will be published this year. Once I sign a full contract and the book would be available for purchase, I will announce it here first. My hope right now is that I could get something out in the fall, perhaps. You’ll have the details right after I get them.

That’s it for now; more later.