Spoiler Alerts: When is it okay to talk about it?

Posted January 9, 2017 by Zeee in Discussions16 Comments

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Let’s talk about anything bookish!

The other day while I writing a review and adding spoiler tags, a question suddenly popped into my head (like it does ALL.THE.TIME).  How long should one NOT spoil a plot? Before you go on reading, I would like to warn you that there are a few spoilers in this post so proceed with caution!

I am a little on the fence about this one because I rely mostly on books/audiobooks borrowed from the library.  And other than receiving ARCs, I hardly purchase anything that’s hot off the press.  So I am not as updated to the newest books and prefer not to have that book spoiled for me.

But what about the books published 5 years, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years ago?  I mean, it’s not like we didn’t know Rhett Butler left Scarlet O’Hara, right?  Oh wait, did I spoil that for you?  Or how about Harry Potter being the seventh Horcrux?  Or Katniss ending up married to Peeta?  Or that Jon Snow is alive? Did I spoil those for you, too?

I understand that not everyone reads the same books at the same time but how do you deal with spoilers?  Is your policy a. anything released within a 6 month period shouldn’t be spoiled or b. anything after a year is fair game or c. I do not spoil anything at all?  Should we even have rules to these sort of thing?

My co-workers and I were talking about The Walking Dead episode which aired the night before and one of them immediately told us to not discuss any spoilers because she hadn’t seen it yet.  I get that we shouldn’t spoil it for her but for the others that want to talk about the episodes immediately after it airs, should they not discuss it and wait for said co-worker to keep herself updated?

I honestly try to NOT spoil the plot for someone. So when discussions about TV shows or movies or plot points in a book come up, I try to answer as vaguely as possible, which for the most part, is doable.

My spoiler #epicfail

As a rule, I try to not spoil anything on my blog no matter how old the book was.  At the time when I first began to review, I hadn’t been thinking about spoiler alerts and reviewed a book chock full of spoilers.  Someone sent me a scathing (well, it wasn’t that bad) email and said that I spoiled the whole plot for them.  From then on, I decided to try to do spoiler free reviews and if it can’t be helped, spoiler tag them.

Or how about the time I DM’ed one of my friends and spoiled the twist at the end of the book, thinking that she already read it? You can’t imagine my mortification! I’ve apologized but it still feels wrong to me.

You CAN share Spoilers with Me

I’m probably the unicorn here because I don’t mind being spoiled. In fact, I have actually asked Pierre to spoil a few books for me. Some I actually read and others, I really didn’t have the interest in reading.

To be honest, for those titles that I read and was SPOILED, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all.

How do you deal with spoilers in your reviews or book discussions?

Have you unintentionally spoiled a plot to someone? Share your horror stories!

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16 responses to “Spoiler Alerts: When is it okay to talk about it?

  1. Ooh, great topic! I don’t include spoilers in my posts as much as possible. That said, it can be really difficult to review book 3 in a series without making SOME reference to how book 2 ended or something, so sometimes they kind of find their way in there? I try to include warnings/tags for that kind of stuff when it’s unavoidable.

    This reminds me of the big hullabaloo that went up with Sherlock. When Season 2 ended with Sherlock supposedly committing suicide and then showing up at the end of the episode, the internets were abuzz about how it had happened and speculation. Some people “spoiled it,” and everyone got all buggered up. But … That whole TV show is based around the original Sherlock Holmes books. So is it really spoiling things when you’ve had decades to learn about the plots? It was a huge debate. (And as someone who is surprisingly not familiar with most of the original Sherlock Holmes story-lines, I basically just avoided reading anything for quite some time).

    At the end of the day, I think this kind of thing is highly personal. Everyone is going to have their own ok’s and not ok’s. Though, things like Harry Potter and horcruxes … well, at this point, if there’s anyone who DOESN’T know that by now, they’re obviously not terribly invested in reading/watching the books/movies anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter? Also, said person must live under a rock. In the middle of the ocean. >.< Haha, so maybe THAT'S the way to gauge it!
    Michelle @ FaerieFits recently posted…The Beginner’s Attempt at Bullet JournalingMy Profile

    • LOL you are right, Michelle! For something that is as much a part of pop-culture, I give a few months before spoiling it for them. I mean, if they haven’t seen it even after it has been out for a few months, then they are not that interested!

  2. There’s a hilarious gif (well, probably a hilarious interview) where Martin Freeman says something about Smaug dying in The Hobbit, and the interviewer cautions, “Spoiler!” He responds, “Sorry…but, well, the book HAS been out for over fifty years.” So yes, at some point, you can assume general knowledge. Although there’s always a new generation–like my kids watching Star Wars for the first time.

    I am super spoiler-phobic. My preferred way to read a book is to know nothing about it except that it’s a good book. Like, not even the basic premise. Once I find an author I like, I usually stop reading the jacket when I see their name on a book. Because of this, I pretty much only read reviews AFTER I’ve read a book, to see what others thought and to maybe get a different point of view. So then, of course, I don’t mind spoilers at all–that’s usually where the meat of the conversation is going to happen. But I appreciate people marking them, always.
    Wendy @ Falconer’s Library recently posted…Top Fives with the KidMy Profile

    • You do have a point, Wendy! There is bound to be someone who has NEVER even seen or read The Hobbit yet or EVEN seen Star Wars so… But maybe because they are deeply ingrained in Pop-culture that spoiling it doesn’t matter anymore? Say, for example, Star Trek. I’ve never seen the Star Trek TV series but I have seen the movies, I probably know a little bit about the crew already but that doesn’t mean I have been spoiled, right? But then again, I am fine with being spoiled.

      There are also certain spoiler filled reviews that I like to read…not all, but a few that I do seek out. 🙂

  3. Jo

    This is such an interesting post! I’ve never really thought about when it’s ok to give spoilers, but you’re right, when something has been out so long that the story is generally known, I don’t think, in general, there should be a problem. If someone is wound up by, for example, someone saying that Darth Vader is Luke’s dad (great gif!), I don’t think that’s really the other person’s fault – it’s so known! And to have not heard about it before… I just don’t understand that. How could they not have? For things like Star Wars or Dickens or some other old, well known medium, spoilers are fair enough.

    However, on my blog, I do try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but that’s not always possible if I want to praise or criticise a book for something where discussing it would be a major spoiler. In those cases, I create spoiler buttons to hide them behind. In the case of sequels, where you can’t discuss anything that happens in the book without spoiling what happened in the previous book, I just give a warning at the beginning. As long as I’m giving warnings and hiding things, I don’t think anyone can put any blame on me. The choice is then with the reader to either skip or read.

    In the case of your co-worker, I think it was her responsibility to stay away from spoilers. You guys shouldn’t have not been able to talk about something you had all seen because of one person. If she didn’t want to it spoiled, she should have taken herself away from the conversation, rather than control it and stop you guys from discussing it properly.

    This was such a great post! It’s actually given me an idea for a discussion on certain kinds of spoilers and whether it’s ok to mention them or not. When I get to posting it, I’ll make sure to credit you and this post as inspiration!
    Jo recently posted…Why Are US Covers Generally Better Than UK Covers?My Profile

    • Thanks, Jo! Yeah, it’s definitely HARD. Especially when something is out already! One commenter on this post actually said that when someone spoils a book that hasn’t been released yet and blabs about it all over social media then that’s pretty annoying.

      I actually avoid Twitter hashtags for movies/series when it comes out (e.g. The Walking Dead & Game of Thrones) because people ALWAYS spoil it.

      So happy that I brought up a topic that made you think about future discussion ideas!

  4. I agree that it’s hard to know when it’s ok to spoil an ending. In the last year, I was annoyed at a major plot point of the Throne of Glass series being discussed on Twitter/blogs with no spoiler warnings, and also had two older books spoiled before I got to reading them: Jennifer Niven’s ‘Holding Up the Universe’ features big spoilers of ‘We have Always Lived in the Castle,’ which was completely random. As a teacher, I have a problem at school whereby sometimes the kids are supposed to have finished reading a book and then when we discuss it, there are always some shouting “argh, I haven’t finished it!” It’s a no-win situation, frankly.

    • Well….Since TOG has been out for a number of years, there is bound to be spoilers. What happened, I think was when people who bought Empire of Storms waaay before it was supposed to be out because of a snafu by the publisher and they blabbed about the plot of THAT book EVEN before it was out..that was pretty annoying and I think in poor taste IMHO.

  5. Like you, I try to avoid spoilers at all—even for older books. I guess I figure if I’m just now reading it, then someone else out there is in the same boat. The only exception is when I posted a Spoiler-Filled Discussion—and in that case “Spoiler” is right in the title (and I added warnings at the top of the posts). That way people like you who WANT spoilers or people who’ve already read the book and want to see what other people think about controversial plot points can talk about the book there.

    As far as TV, I might discuss a show from the night before, but I’d definitely ask if everyone in hearing range had seen it (I almost never see a show when it actually airs anyway, so …)
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…Top Ten Books Books I Missed in 2016My Profile

    • haha Me too! I do spoiler reviews once in a while and it IS also stated in the title… sometimes, if I am mildly interested in a book, I read a spoiler review just to see if I will like it or not. Sometimes it turns me off, othertimes, it makes me read it. I’m weird.

      I totally get not discussing a TV show the day after it released because I don’t want people to be spoiled. But I do draw the line when it’s been WEEKS or even MONTHS that it’s been released. haha

  6. I do try to make sure I don’t spoiler anything in my reviews, but I don’t mind spoilers at all. I can still enjoy a book even if I know a spoiler. Especially if its a book that has a huge cliffhanger, and then I know to wait for the rest of the series before I read it because I HATE cliffhangers, they drive me crazy hehe. But if I am writing a review and its inevitable that I will be revealing some spoilers because its such a huge factor in the story, then I put a warning at the top so others know that it has some spoilers.
    Lover Of Romance recently posted…Tea and Biscuits Book Discussions: Historical Romance Is My FavoriteMy Profile

    • Me too! The only thing that is hard for me is when I talk about a book or a movie with someone who hasn’t read it or seen it yet! I almost always spoil it for them, which sucks but I have been better that before. 🙂

  7. I suppose there are a few things that I wouldn’t think twice about “spoiling,” like the Luke Skywalker thing, because they’re just so part of our pop culture or whatever that you’d have to literally be living under a rock not to know them. But I hate spoilers, so, for the most part I avoid spoiling anything, even for books that are so old they’re in the public domain already. So just a year is definitely not enough time, in my opinion. I think it’s perfectly fine to discuss spoilers or include them in a review at any point in time, but only as long as they’re hidden or you put at the beginning that there will be spoilers or something. For my own reviews, I hide spoilers on my blog and Goodreads, and on Amazon I don’t include them at all and instead let people know they can go to my blog or GR if they really want to see the spoiler part.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Book Review: Succubus (The Executioner Book 1) by Brandon VarnellMy Profile

    • I get what you mean, Kristen! But yeah, there are just a lot of things that are already part of pop culture that it is just impossible to avoid them. I do my best to put spoiler tags and hide the spoilers on my reviews and actually add “SPOILER REVIEW” when the review is really full of spoilers. But this does not happen a lot since I try my best NOT to write spoiler reviews.

      The hard part is when I am talking about something to one of my friends. It’s really hard to censor myself when that happens because I almost ALWAYS spill the beans for them!

  8. So… yeah, I hate spoilers. That being said, I DO understand that sometimes they’re going to happen, especially if something has been released for a LONG time. True story- I knew ONE of those things you spoiled before reading this post (Katniss and Peeta, obvs hahah). But like I said, I don’t exactly think that no one is going to talk about them- if I cared, I’d probably have read/watched by now, right? I mean, I WISH I could watch Game of Thrones, but I am too poor for HBO bwhahah. So alas. But I feel like the whole world can’t cater to me, of course! Now, I think if you spoil people RIGHT away, publicly, so they can’t even avoid it if they try… well that is a crappy thing to do. I have seen that a lot especially with TV and such- the minute a show premieres on the east coast, spoilers are EVERYWHERE, you basically have to hermit up until you can watch it.

    And with books, I hate when people get advanced copies and then bitch about stuff all over Twitter (like with ToG- I put of reading the books because of all the spoilers, I lost interest!) so I think people should just be… mindful. It’s going to happen, of course, but if it is an accident, it can be forgiven! I have done that- with Mockingjay, ironically, because I didn’t think there were humans left who hadn’t known how it ended bwhahah. But alas, I had not meant it! Great post, I love seeing people’s opinions on this sort of thing!
    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted…Sad, Neglected, and Not Read in 2016My Profile

    • I know what you mean! This is exactly why I avoid Twitter and basically any social media when one of my fave shows is showing. I also do not follow series Twitter accounts and official hashtags because people are just NUTS and will SPOIL basically EVERYTHING!

      But what about Gone with the Wind? It was released in 1939 so spoiling that should be okay, right?

      I do understand those readers that b*tch about the book when the book hasn’t been published yet. However, I also know that they are entitled to their own opinion BUT at least, they should add SPOILER ALERTS so people can read at their own risk.