Whatever Happened to Predictability?

Predictability has gotten a bad rap, lately. I read a lot of book and movie reviews and the most consistent negative comment is “It’s so predictable.” And reviewers get so angry about that. A predictable movie makes people crazy. A predictable book? A huge waste of time.

Let me go a little “Full House” on you and ask (cue music) “What ever happened to predictability?” (Come on, you know the rest…”The milkman, the paperboy and evening TV…”)

And let me throw something crazy out there: Predictability is NOT necessarily a bad thing. In fact, (cue “teacher mode”), in ancient Greece, the winners of “Best Play” were not the ones with the most original script. Not by a long shot. The winners were the ones who told the best story. Same with Shakespeare. He didn’t invent the story of Romeo & Juliet. Or Hamlet. Or most of the others. He just told them better than anyone else. In fact, Romeo and Juliet gives the ending away at the beginning. Predictable? Sure! One of the greatest works of literature ever? Um, mostly yes, though dying for a love that you’ve had for less than a week isn’t all that romantic to me, personally, but whatever…

A great story isn’t defined by whether or not you can guess the ending. Stories aren’t math problems. The joy is sucked out of reading or watching a film if all you’re looking for is theΒ “who did it?” or “Which boy does she pick?”

The joy of reading or watching (or listening to) a good story is the telling of it. How is the plot developed? What are the characters like? Do we love them? Root for them? Are we transported to a different time or place? I love when I’m in a movie theater and the lights go up and I suddenly remember I am in a movie theater. I was so engrossed in the world of the movie that I totally lost track of reality. A good book will do the same thing.

Let a good story take you away. I *predict* you’ll be glad you did (cue groan). πŸ™‚


  1. Sarah
    Jun 10, 2014

    Great! Now I’m going to have that song from Full House stuck in my head all day! lol
    I agree with you, Miss Krista. I actually like books that are predictable because then I can just enjoy the story and how the author tells it, instead of trying to guess what might happen next – not that I don’t enjoy those stories too, because I do, just in a different way. πŸ™‚

  2. Sarah Scheele
    Jun 13, 2014

    Great points!

    Coming up with original plots takes a lot of gas out of an author–if he or she grabs an old plot, they can focus on characters and storytelling.

    I like seeing what fresh take an author could put on a well-known idea. It makes comparing authors easier–and there’s something to be said for anything that makes life easy. πŸ™‚

    • krista
      Jun 14, 2014

      Very true, Sarah!

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