Deb Linda Says Enough Foreplay — Cut to the Chase Already!

Here’s a snippet of a conversation I had with TG (hubs) in the car prior to writing this post.

Me: I have to blog about anticipation at The Debutante Ball this week.

TG: *snickers*

Me: *ignores snickering* So, how would you say I handle anticipation?

TG: You’re kidding, right? Ha-ha-ha-ha!

Me: *sighs*

Um, yeah. Anticipation is a double-edged sword. And both edges slice right through me.

Okay, okay…maybe that’s a little harsh. I’m sure, given enough time, I could think of something good about anticipation. Something that doesn’t smack of worry and dread and unbearable anxiety about possible outcomes. Just give me a second…

*think, think, think…crickets…think, think, think*

Uh…sorry. I got nothin’.

Look, I truly wish I could appreciate anticipation. That I could learn to love the adrenaline. The heightened sense of excitement. The teasing caress of butterflies in the stomach before a major event.

But I don’t get butterflies. I get raptors. Hawks and eagles and vultures. Any pleasant tickling from the feathers is wiped out by sharp beaks and slashing claws. By the time In A Fix is released next summer I may be all smiles on the outside, but on the inside? Yeah, you and I will know what’s really going on:

Sadly, it’s not just about the big things, either. I’ve been known to eat dessert before dinner because I can’t give the lasagna (no matter how luscious it is) the attention it deserves if my mind is being invaded by visions of the delectable confection to come. Naturally, this can get awkward if we’re dining at someone else’s house. I try to circumvent the situation by offering to bring dessert, and making sure it’s something mediocre, so I won’t be tempted. (Which isn’t tough to do if I make it myself. The kitchen is not my friend.)

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Admit it — you’re imagining how thrilled TG must have been when he came to pick me up for our first date and I said, “Can we just go to bed right now, so I can calm down and enjoy the movie?” Heh-heh. He wishes. You’ll have to imagine it, because it didn’t happen that way. Sorry, but there are limits to my impatience.

But here’s the real biggie. The confession that may get me blasted out of cyberspace by authors and readers alike:

*clears throat, begins bravely* I sometimes — okay, often — *lowers voice* read the end of a book first.

I KNOW! Sacrilege, huh? Sorry, but I can’t help myself. Honestly, though, spoilers don’t ruin a book for me. Knowing how a book ends allows me to relax and be thoroughly entertained by the reading journey, unencumbered by the crushing anxiety about what the heck is going to happen!

Seriously. It’s not that I’m a big, whiny, impatient baby. It’s that knowing the end improves my focus.

Plus, if I don’t happen to like the ending, I don’t have to read the whole book. I mean, there isn’t enough time in the day to read everything I want to read anyway, so why waste it reading something that will ultimately disappoint me?

Dare I ask how you feel about this controversial topic? Do you sometime sneak a peek? Or do you rein in your curiosity and enjoy the torture of waiting anticipation?

*dons helmet and prepares for fallout*

P.S. Don’t forget to hover your cursor over the pics for added (somewhat lame) commentary.

49 Replies to “Deb Linda Says Enough Foreplay — Cut to the Chase Already!”

  1. Good morning – I’ve read the end of a book – to see if it’s worth continuing reading when the story isn’t holding me. That’s a sure route to carpal tunnel on a Kindle click click click!

    I was just telling a friend yesterday how I remembered being in maybe 4th grade, on Halloween. I’d gotten home from school and can picture myself flying down the neighborhood hill on my bike with butterflies dancing in my stomach for the anticipation of Halloween night. It’s a clear, joyous childhood memory for me.

    From Carly Simon to ketchup – anticipation is mostly good.

    1. Ah, Kindle thumb. I have to keep reminding myself to switch my clicking finger regularly, or else I really pay for it later.

      Love Carly AND ketchup. In fact, I put that Carly song on my blog today in honor of Anticipation Week here. No ketchup, though. *grin*

  2. I’m with Kim, except that the ONLY time I have ever read the end of a book is when it was lame and I didn’t want to read the rest. I normally HATE it when I know the ending. Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who like telling me every twist in the plot, even up to the ending. Makes me angry.

    Sure, anticipation can be upsetting when what happens isn’t nearly as good as what I anticipated, but it’s far better than boredom because I already know what’s going to happen.

    Can you tell I’m a bit plot-driven?

    1. I can tell. *grin*

      Funny thing about me is, I’m much more comfortable not knowing exactly how a book I’m writing is going to end. I guess my subconscious handles the anxiety for me.

  3. A couple of weeks ago I was reading reviews of a book I was reading at the time and someone gave the ending away. At first I was furious. I took a couple of deep breaths and reminded myself of how much I was enjoying the book and realized it wasn’t just the story that had captured me, but the style of writing. So, as you suggest, I relaxed and continued to enjoy the journey, already knowing where it would end.

    Each day I give an imaginary award to the person who gives me my first laugh-out-loud moment of the day. You win the award today with the description of how your first date might have been if you’d had no limitations. I did indeed laugh out loud and it’s not even six a.m. yet. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Why, thank you! I’m going to imagine your imaginary award is sitting on my mantle, reminding me how much fun it is to make people laugh out loud. 🙂

      I get mad if somebody ELSE tells me what happens. It has to be my idea. And I never, never spoil a book (or a movie or a TV show) for anyone else. Well, unless they beg me. Even then I’ll usually torture them a little first. *evil grin*

  4. I am NOT a patient person, so anticipation kills me. Although I’ve never read the end of a book first, I have often skipped ahead to certain parts because I didn’t want the pages of buildup, the chapters of anticipation making me wait. Shh. Please don’t tell anyone.

  5. I definitely do not consider myself a patient person, but I have never looked at the end of a book because I couldn’t wait. I have, however, done what other folks have done, which is to decide I’m giving up and just look at the ending – usually to confirm that it turns out as I thought.

    I do this with movies, too. If it’s not good, I just turn to my sweetie and say, “Tell me what the ending is.” If he’s seen it, he will, and we turn it off. If he hasn’t, I leave him to watch it and go do something else.

    I’m fascinated by this – I have always thought of myself as impatient, but never too impatient to enjoy the end of a good book. Maybe that means I am patient after all? Hrm.

    1. I think there are different kinds of patience. Or different shades, maybe. (Now I want to write a book called “Shades of Patience.”)

      I never knew I was an “end-reader” until I realized how often I enjoyed rereading a good book even more than reading it the first time. Of course, it doesn’t always work as well with mysteries. Though even then there’s still the discovery of HOW the author gets to the ending to keep you entertained along the way.

  6. I used to never and I mean, NEVER, want to know the end of a movie (probably a reaction to having innocently suggested the main character’s secret a half hour into The Crying Game to an ex-boyfriend and he being so annoyed at my inadvertent spoiler that we didn’t talk the rest of the night. Oops.)

    THEN came the internet. Now, it’s hopeless. If there’s a child/animal in peril, I beg my husband to give it a quick search on the internet to see if it’s safe to keep watching.

    Case in point: Will Smith’s I Am Legend. I had that dreaded lump in my stomach about his dog and sure enough, my husband confirmed that puppy was indeed on a collision course for buh-bye. At which point I left the movie.

    I don’t, however, tend to do that with books. But there have been exceptions. If anything, I’ve been known to drag out the last ten pages of a book I adore, because I can’t bear the idea of parting with it and its characters.

    1. TG accidentally did the same thing to me with The Sixth Sense before we even saw it. He figured it out just from reading a review, even though the review didn’t contain a spoiler. *grin*

      By the way, you might not want to read OLD YELLER. Or see the movie. Just sayin’… 😉

  7. I am NOT a very patient person, but I never read the end of a book. Often, I’m so worried about spoilers, even minor ones, that I don’t even read back cover copy. I have a friend who end-reads and it makes me a little crazy as an author AND as an anal freak, but we are still able to be friends, so don’t worry, Linda – we’ll make it work.


  8. Bahahaa! Raptors and Vultures indeed. You and I must be related. Except for the book ending thing. I never read the end because if I know how a book ends, I don’t need to read the beginning and middle. For me, it’s figuring out how things end that keeps me in the game, which explains my fascination with shows like CSI, NCIS, and Mentalist, which has less to do with anticipation and more to do with solving the puzzle.

    The only thing I like to anticipate is my nightly bath, when I sink into layers of bubbles and read a book – beginning to end. 🙂

    Take care,

    1. I love those shows, too, but for me it’s as much about watching the interaction between the characters as it is about solving the puzzle. Actually, probably even more. It’s the characters that drive a book for me.

      Not that I don’t enjoy a good puzzle. But even when I know the solution, I still enjoy seeing how it’s set up.

  9. I totally read the end of books. Not always, but a lot. And usually I’ll go back and keep reading, but sometimes I’ll stop. I haven’t totally figured out my system, but I just do it as I do it and it seems to work for me.

    My evil confession is that when I request partials, I always request a synopsis because if I stop in the middle (which I almost always do) or even if I read it all but decide I’m not going to request the full, I often still want to know what happens. So I read the synopsis and then I feel like I can move on. SORRY!!! But don’t write a book where that’s satisfying enough. Make me NEED to finish it. Because I will stay up all night to finish it. 🙂

    1. See, that’s why we get along — we’re both cool with “whatever works.” 😉

      Still giggling over your evil confession. You make a very good point — with a truly good book, it’s not enough just to know the ending. You HAVE to know how the author got you there.

  10. TELL ME you didn’t read the end of my mss early. Really. Tell me. I’ll wait.

    I can’t imagine reading the end first, honestly. In our house we don’t even read the blurbs on movies so we don’t know what’s going to happen.

    1. *crosses fingers behind back* Um, of course not… *evil grin*

      Seriously, I didn’t! I wouldn’t do that to a CP. Because, heck, I KNEW it was going to be good, so I didn’t have to. 🙂

  11. Probably 3/4 of the time I peek at the last page/few pages. It may be because I am worried about a character or I’m bored and want to see if things perk up or…well, the list is long.

    Sometimes, knowing a bit of the outcome makes experiencing the development of that outcome even more enjoyable. However, when I’m beta-reading, I control myself. 🙂

  12. While I understand your reasoning and I get that it is rational to not waste time on a book with a bad ending, I have to admit, when I read those words, my stomach jerked and I almost shriekd, “WHAT THE HELL LINDA”

    In the middle of my oh-so-quiet writer’s office.

    In hindsight. Okay. Books are a very personal experience, and if you can enjoy the journey while knowing the ending, then more power to you. If I really want to deeply enjoy a book, I have to read it twice, because I am doing just what you said — dying of anticipation, stomach hurting, up-all-night. That’s why I have to parse out my YA reading Usually, even if the book isn’t good, it sucks you in. Then, if the ending is awful, I’m doubly pissed. *Fumes about “Pretties”*

    But when the book is good and the ending is good, and you reach it after all that work . . . I LOVE that feeling. I’ll stay up all night to have that feeling!

    1. LOL! Okay, I do understand what you’re saying. And, yes, that is a glorious feeling. When it happens. But it’s tough to sustain book after book. 😉

      Hope you’re enjoying your office!

  13. I am disgustingly patient, and don’t want to read the ending first, or to know what’s gonna happen in the future. My mother was into the occult and always wanted me to go to a fortune teller, but it wasn’t my thing. Now, on the other hand, I could definitely get into eating dessert first. Might as well enjoy it while there’s still plenty of room for it, right?

    1. Being patient by nature will serve you well in the writing biz, because if you’re not patient by nature, you will have patience thrust upon you. Chafes a bit. 😉

  14. I know some other people who read endings first. I’m not one of them unless I get to page 50 or something and decide I’m not reading the whole book. Sometimes then I don’t even bother with the ending, tho.

    Happy Weekend!

    1. I’ve come across a few books that don’t even entice me to look at the end, but I try to at least give them that opportunity to show me it might be worth it to stick around.

      Happy Weekend to you, too. 🙂

  15. I can’t join you on reading the end of the book, but I do have anticipation issues. The absolute worst? Brow plucking and waxing. No, seriously — laying there with cotton waxed to your face and waiting for the any-moment-now when it’ll be ripped off for a split second of agony? Brutal. I grab at my cheeks and grit my teeth to make it bearable.

    I do recognize I don’t HAVE go get waxed, but doing it myself would be a dermatologic disaster, and letting the brows grow wild… I come from Russian peasant stock. There would be issues.

    1. If we’re going with sex as a metaphor, I think of it more as being like having sex with someone you know well, and who knows you well. IOW, the best kind. 🙂

  16. I have a friend who reads the end of every book. We have found about it. She feels like you do, that it never ruins the end for her. She reads the last chapter and then starts at the beginning. But with one book…I think it was One Day, or maybe Room… I told her I refused to lend her my copy if she was going to read the end. She made no such promise, but I lent it to her anyway.

    I’m a pushover.

    I have seen people get LEGITIMATELY mad at her about it.

    1. I go back and forth with some friends about it, but we’re only playing. I mean, as long as somebody doesn’t spoil the ending, why would anyone really care how somebody else chooses to enjoy reading? We’re all buying books — that’s the main thing. Can’t we all just get along? *big grin*

  17. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re related. I so do that, too. For the same reasons. I can concentrate on the book better if I KNOW it’s either a happily ever after or happily for now for the characters I’m going to care about. If I don’t know, I can’t relax. So I skim the last few pages.
    This is not my fault. Certain writers have betrayed my trust. I’m looking at you Anne Rice & Diana Gabaldon.
    And also, if I don’t like the end, I don’t have to waste my time reading the book.

    I got your back, sister!

    1. LOL! Which one of Diana’s books betrayed your trust? I know it was agony for me waiting for VOYAGER after reaching the end of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. Talk about a cliffhanger!

    1. Sadly, my family has learned to wrap my gifts very well. With tissue paper and lots of tape, so it’s impossible to open and re-wrap without leaving evidence. Curse them and their lack of trust!

  18. So, I’ve never read the end of a book first, BUT there was recently a study about how spoilers don’t really spoil things, and I think that what you’re REALLY doing is see how good a book truly is. With the possible exception of a murder mystery, the book should really be about the ride (I’ll give you and Tawna a minute to giggle about that) and if it isn’t good even though you already know the ending, it really isn’t that good.

  19. Sorry for the late reply. I was at The Big E all weekend with the kids. I’m just catching up on my reading.

    Linda, I’ve lost all respect for you now. How COULD you? And I thought we were married to the same man. My man would never allow peeking ahead. 🙂

    I cannot finish a book if I know the ending. Sad, huh?

    1. LOL! Mea culpa. But look at Jen’s comment above, re spoilers. Turns out a study proves they don’t really spoil things at all, so I’m in the clear. 😉

      But you mean to tell me you never reread books you like? Come on. Surely knowing the ending to an old favorite doesn’t make you enjoy it less, does it? *assumes Darth Vader voice* Come over to the Dark Side, Missy Olive… *breathes heavily*

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