15 February 2011

Giving the Game Away

I hate it when I know what happens next. That's why I like to watch live sport. Apart from some famous exceptions, nobody knows what's going to happen, nobody can spoil the drama.

If I have to watch a recorded match, I make ridiculous efforts to insulate myself from any information that might leak into my mind and give me an inkling of the result.

I never, never, read the blurb on the back of a book. These are crazy, irresponsible things that rob dramatic tension, reveal plot twists and generally ruin the whole experience.

Film trailers are even worse. I once had the great good fortune to see the film ET before I had any information about it at all. No trailer, no posters, nothing. The first third of the film does not show the alien, he is shadowy, slightly sinister and completely elusive. This works brilliantly, but only if you haven't seen a picture of ET riding in the basket of a flying bicycle. The man who did the poster not only ruined the first half of the film by showing the alien, he also revealed the ending. My point is that ET, and most other films, are a different experience if you have seen the trailer. I will go further and say that they are always less enjoyable if you have seen the trailer. There is no way in which a trailer, or spoiler, can improve a film.

So, I invite you to imagine the difficulty I have in submitting a synopsis with my work! It's almost a religious thing for me. I have taken the time and thought to write a thriller with plot twists and surprises and really clever bits that you could never anticipate and am now expected to give it all away in two pages of casual prose.

Yet agents and publishers insist on it.

It's hard at times, being a writer.