Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Blogging And Spoilers

A photograph of a graveyard with 'Spoiler: Everyone dies' typed on it

I’ve written about spoilers in regards to reading; today I’d like to look at the way spoilers can impact blogging.

At some point when writing a book-related post, reviews in particular, I’d say it’s likely everyone considers whether what they are writing about constitutes a spoiler. Should they add a note? Should they not discuss the content? Even those who include spoilers still consider the effect.

This is all well and good but there’s the question: where do we stop? To some extent, everything can be called a spoiler. When I wrote last time I noted that I like to read classics with no knowledge of what they are about. In my case, knowing the career choice of a character can be a spoiler. And that’s fine for me, when I’m reading, but it becomes an issue when I start to write the review. If I wrote the review thinking of how I like to read my classics, there would be nothing to do except give a rating. So common sense has to be exercised.

(This begs the question: if I don’t like my classic spoiled, what business do I have discussing them? I reason that even if I write the review, people don’t have to read it.)

So where do we stop? Where we want to stop. We return to blogs that suit us as readers, so a variety of spoilers and no spoilers is good. The thing is that if you want to write about a book you often need to spoil it. Without any spoilers (without plot summary, opinions subjective or objective), like the above imagined review of a classic, the piece would be full of vague thoughts that would be of little worth.

I don’t believe it’s possible to claim you don’t include spoilers because what is a spoiler when the definition varies between readers and often per book? You might consider what you’ve written to be a spoiler; someone else might not, and vice versa. I also think being fastidious puts a lot of pressure on you if and when you undergo a change, and of course it places limitations on what you can discuss. I know from my own ‘journey’ that the decision to no longer refer to myself in my reviews sometimes meant I was unable to fully explain my thoughts. Reverting back, letting myself say ‘I’ when needed, has brought back a lot of my interest in writing.

I think ‘write what you want’ sums up my opinion on this subject, but I still think it’s worth considering, most if not every time, what you’re saying and why.

Spoilers can make or break a piece of writing, but not always in the way you’d think, and they shouldn’t necessarily be limited.

What are your thoughts on this subject? And, if you write about books, do you include spoilers?



November 7, 2014, 8:43 am

In my reviews I try to limit myself to what’s included in the publisher’s blurb – after all, a reader needs to know something about a book to know if it will suit them; is it romantic fiction, a horror, war story… the stuff I like to know myself. When it comes to classics though, I think I’d assume that most people are already aware of the plot, and that I’m not really ‘reviewing’ the book as such but sharing my thoughts on it. Stopping to think about it though, obviously there’s a point where everyone encounters a ‘classic’ for the first time – would I have been happy to know the ending of, say, Anna Karenina or Great Expectations before I read them? Probably not.


November 7, 2014, 12:00 pm

I think it depends on the book for me, if it was published ages ago I’ll be freer with my plot reveals, if it’s newer I’ll be more cautious.


November 7, 2014, 1:22 pm

I don’t really believe in spoilers because I believe in re-reading. That said, however, there are books with secrets, and I try never to reveal a secret. The Gone-Away World is one of my favorite books discovered while blogging, and I will never give away its secret.

Laurie C

November 7, 2014, 5:55 pm

I always thought I was very careful not to include any spoilers in my reviews, until my sister told me it was a spoiler when I mentioned the characters because then she knew that none of them died in the previous books (Louise Penny’s Armand Ganache novels)! That’s when I realized even my strict idea of spoilers wasn’t as strict as some readers would want, but then,as you say, it would be impossible to write anything substantive at all!

Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

November 7, 2014, 6:21 pm

You’re right that there is a spectrum when it comes to spoilers — I know a lot of people consider a review non-spoilery if the facts about the story are limited to what can be found on the back jacket or on a Goodreads/Amazon summary and I mostly try to stick to that. I also tend to think that if something is revealed very early on, it can be OK to talk about without upsetting most readers. Something revealed 75% of the way through that you wouldn’t necessarily see coming? That’s definitely a no-no! Talking in general about the themes of a book I think is usually OK unless that theme is meant to be a secret or surprise until much later on and themes automatically usually mean you are speaking in generalities rather than specifics. So, yea, dealing with spoilers is hard!

And I can see where you are coming from about classics. Many people think that because they have been around forever, spoilers don’t apply, but how much you know about a story can really affect your reading experience. For example, I just read The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and found it just ho-hum because the basic premise is so well known in popular culture. I bet at the time it was written it was surprising and shocking, but that gets lost over the years when trying to read for the first time and already knowing the twist.


November 9, 2014, 9:26 am

As you’ve said when writing a regular book post I write ‘what I want’. Only giving as much detail as I would be happy to read. I take more care to warn readers though when my book post is on a book from a trilogy or series; because it is almost inevitable that you will spoil the previous book.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

November 9, 2014, 4:49 pm

I’m highly sensitive to spoilers and think even the blurb on the back cover ruins most books. I prefer to know as little as possible, but appreciate this makes writing reviews hard. Sometimes I put spoilers in white ink so that the reader can decide whether they want to highlight the text and read it, but most of the time I avoid mentioning anything that might be a spoiler for someone.

Jenny @ Reading the End

November 10, 2014, 11:53 pm

I do include spoilers when I write about a book, but when they’re major ones, I try to mark them. The tricky bit for me is that I don’t mind about spoilers (I read the end), and it can be hard for me to know what other readers would consider a spoiler. It’s hard to figure out where the consensus would be on what constitutes a spoiler or not. And I’m afraid I get it wrong too often.


November 11, 2014, 1:55 pm

Maryom: That’s a great point about classics; you’ve voiced something I’ve felt for a while – it feels different to review a classic. Maybe it’s simply because it’s older, but there’s certainly less pressure, and in addition you know there are already other readers who’ve gone before you. There is a difference when it comes to the end, though, yes. I’m not sure I’ll get round to finishing Anna Karenina for that reason.

Alice: Yes. As much as I personally like to be ignorant, there is something to be said for older books and freedom.

Jeanne: Secrets – very good point. Reviews can definitely help when re-reading, getting another’s perspective to join your own.

Laurie: Trilogies are difficult to review. You need to make reference to the previous books, even if just to let a reader know the book you’re reviewing isn’t the first, and most people like to know if the books are as good as the others. But that’s the thing, sometimes talking of characters can be a spoiler yet most people wouldn’t think of leaving them out of a review.

Christine: Back covers are a difficult one sometimes. I know in Elizabeth Chadwick’s case almost all back covers of her books reveal between half to everything in the book, so you have to be careful (one blurb was relevant right up to the last few pages!) Secret themes – yes. You want to talk about them when they’re important and especially when they could be what would make or break a decision to read the book, but then it is still a spoiler.

That’s the thing; the book may have been around forever, but no one person has and we should think of the reading experience and how the first readers would have been able to read the books. I think I heard the twist of Hyde at some point but have managed to forget it which is a blessing because that doesn’t happen often. At least in the case of classics, however, we can attribute some of our ambivalence to the way we’ve changed, that different things shock us now.

Jessica: That’s fair, write what you want and what you would be happy to read on another’s blog. Yes, it’s almost impossible not to spoil the first of a trilogy.

Jackie: I agree on that count – a very short blurb and the presence of ellipses I’ve found to (generally) be safe, anything further and the plot is revealed. Literally rather than just ‘for me’.

Jenny: That exactly – it’s hard to know. And the worrying is both good and a drawback.



Comments closed