The other day I went to submit a review to a website and saw there was a rule about no spoilers… which my review had. I understand the reason for the rule, and they said I could include the spoilers as long as I hid them when I posted publicly, so it was fine! But it did get me thinking about why spoilers can be a good thing sometimes.
I’m someone who avoids spoilers, for the most part. But, as long as they’re hidden or warned about and people have a choice whether to see them or not, I do think they can be a good thing. And even I find them useful on occasion. So let’s discuss it!
It Can Be Comforting to Know How Things Will Turn Out
This isn’t one of my personal reasons, I like the tension of not knowing. But some readers like to know how things will turn out so that they don’t have to worry and feel stressed while reading.
Spoilers Can Make Someone More Interested
Maybe someone isn’t interested in a book, thinks it won’t really be for them, but then they read a spoiler, and it just so happens that particular detail makes them interested. It’s happened to me numerous times.
Sometimes There’s Something Specific You Want to Know
Sometimes there’s something you want to know, and it just so happens that thing is a spoiler. For example, when my favorite character in a book died, I sought out spoilers for the next book to see if he would come back (it was not out of the question in this series). When I found out he would in fact make an appearance in the book, I decided to continue the series. For another example, lots of people want to know if the dog dies in books that feature a dog. For one more example, sometimes I just want to know if there are vampires, and I don’t care if it’s a spoiler!
Trigger Warnings Help People
Sometimes there is content in a book that is a common trigger, and it might also be a spoiler. But there are people with PTSD or trauma who need to know about it ahead of time in order to avoid flashbacks, panic attacks, or other mental health crises. (I know trigger warnings are a point of contention, but just like other spoilers, they can be hidden and/or marked, and no one is harmed by their inclusion!)
Spoilers Can Generate Discussion
Spoilers are great for people who’ve already read the book and want to know what other people thought or discuss things. I often check out reviews after I read a book. This can be especially fun with incomplete series, to speculate about mysteries or things to come and see other people’s speculations. And my reviews with whole spoiler sections seem to be the ones I get the most interaction with from strangers. These people and I would never have found each other in order to have a private conversation, but because I posted these spoiler-filled thoughts online, we had the chance to connect over something we both loved or felt strongly about.
But Spoilers Should Always Be Marked or Hidden!
Remember, if you’re going to include spoilers, please hide them or clearly mark them and give people enough warning to avoid them! (E.g. Don’t say, “Spoiler warning, Mark dies!” because you can already see the “Mark dies” part by the time you’ve registered the spoiler warning.)
Some sites, like Goodreads, have ways to hide them with HTML or something similar.
On blogs, if you can’t use plugins or don’t know how to code, you can give warning and then put the spoilers in their own separate paragraph or section, or you can use HTML to make the text transparent and tell people to highlight it to reveal the spoilers.
Amazon has no way to hide text, so I usually just remove spoilers when I post there, or I give a warning at the start of the review if I feel they’re too important to be removed.
I don’t know, this isn’t a post about how to hide spoilers, just try to be careful with them!
I say we should appreciate spoilers, as long as they’re adequately hidden or warned about, because someone out there may want them. (And as long as you’re doing so in your own space, or in a space where spoilers have been invited. Certain websites, blogs, etc. may have their own rules.) Ultimately I think having the option to see them helps both readers and writers.