March is formulas and spoilery stuff

In this world of social media disseminating groundbreaking news to all corners of the globe within seconds of an incident occurring, it can be very tempting to use social media for far more mundane things. Like finding out who the last man/woman standing happened to be on various reality TV shows.

To be clear, waaay down here in NZ we tended to be a little behind when it comes to TV series (like a week, weeks, or even a season behind), whereas nowadays, it’s a promotional point for our free-to-air networks to screen programs “the same day as the States!”. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to get a wee bit anxious that the mean, arrogant, thoroughly undeserving contestant on ANTM/Project Runway, who’d been badmouthing all the other contestants and behaving badly, would end up winning… leaving me rocking on the couch screaming “No!” at the TV screen, and vowing to never watch another season of the show.  Hence, on occasion, in a fit of “Have To Know!” I’d take to the interwebz to find out who won… because if it did turn out to be aforementioned mean, arrogant, thoroughly undeserving contestant, I could then quit watching (AKA stop torturing myself every week hoping that reason would prevail).

Too, if my favorite did end up winning, I (somewhat perversely) would get a real kick out of continuing to watch the show, all the while knowing who’d triumph in the end. Of course, there was that one time toward the end of the season that I was getting so anxious about all the backstabbing that DD took pity on me and told me she’d found out on her Facebook feed that my favorite contestant won. Meaning I happily settled in for three more weeks of gleeful “Hah! Take that, beyotch. You’re so getting your just desserts because you’re gonna be runner up. Neener neener!” only to find out at the nth hour when the winner was announced that DD had somehow gotten it horribly wrong. Let’s just say my reaction wasn’t pretty at leave it at that.

Nowadays, though, if you DON’T want to know who wins prior to a finale being screened, it can be almost impossible to protect yourself from spoilers showing up in your Facebook or Twitter feeds. Movies, reality shows, sports matches — you name it, someone will post spoilers somewhere… and you’ll accidentally spot them when you didn’t go looking for them. So thank goodness we don’t have that issue with books….

Never Judge a Lady by Her CoverExcept we do. Case in point, by the time I got a hold of a copy of Sarah MacLean’s Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, The Big Secret — that had been maintained throughout all the previous books in The Rules of Scoundrels series — had been discussed all over the interwebz. So much so that, frankly, I’d have to be completely unplugged from the internet to not have discovered the secret. Of course, if I had been completely unplugged from the internet, chances are I’d never have known about this series in the first place, and never gotten around to reading it… which would have been a crying shame. *g*

So, was I pissed to already know what should have been an OMG! I didn’t see that coming–how freaking awesome!!! reveal prior to reading this book?

Nope. Because here’s the thing: For me, when a book is well-written, with characters that are so engaging you’re sucked into the story, and carried along until the very end, already knowing The Big Secret doesn’t matter. For me, it only heightens the anticipation — the angsting over how the hell the heroine’s secret is going to be found out, and what the impact will be.

I liken knowing the heroine’s big secret prior to reading Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (and if you haven’t read this book, it was a reeeeally big secret!), to that worst kept secret that is the foundation of the romance novel: the Happy Ever After. Because when we pick up a romance novel, we know we’re going to get a happy ending, right? No secret there. But even knowing that, we don’t stop reading them. We don’t stop reading them because the joy of reading a supposedly “formulaic” Happy-Ever-After romance novel, is discovering how, despite the characters being put through hell, and pulled apart, and forced to face seemingly insurmountable barriers, that final goal is going to be achieved. The joy of reading a romance novel is knowing that no matter what disasters occur between the pages of that book, and what horrors befall the characters we’ve become so invested in, ultimately, our reader expectations WILL be met, and we WILL get that all-important happy ending we crave.

And for all of those who sneer and romance novels for being “formulaic”, I’ll leave you with the wise words of two regular commenters on The Passive Voice blog:

“Formula and boundaries never stopped ballroom dancers from being exciting, thrilling, and even surprising with new turns.” ~ Mir (9th Jan 2015)

“In software development, we call them design patterns, not formula. Understanding them is essential to the craft.” ~ William Ockham (9th Jan 2015)

Mmm. Rather than calling the Happy Ever After formulaic, I call it a gift.

Here’s my full reading list for March:

  • City of Souls (Signs of the Zodiac #4) by Vicki Pettersson
  • The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
  • Lux: Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Lux: Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Cheat the Grave (Signs of the Zodiac #5) by Vicki Pettersson
  • The Neon Graveyard (Signs of the Zodiac #6) by Vicki Pettersson
  • More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs
  • The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
  • The Lions of Al Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake
  • Captain and Countess by Alice Gaines
  • The Lady’s Tutor by Robin Schone
  • Easy by Tammara Webber
  • Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

May your future reading material be essential-to-the-craft design patterns!



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