Have you ever wished that you had the ability to know what’s going to happen in a book before you read it? Well, this is a perfect chance for you to learn how to do it…
Disclaimer: This is a step-by-step guide to guessing the ending of any book. I’ve been using it for years now and I have had a very high success rating so far. I have not conducted any experiments on live subjects to test its success rates on other human beings, HOWEVER it is highly likely that by reading this post you will learn the strategies to always predict a book’s ending with a 90% accuracy rate. SO, if you actually like being surprised by books, then I suggest you read my latest Book Haul post.
Also, this guide is so cool that its strategies can be applied to the entirety of a novel, not just the ending.
Having said all that let’s get to the actual post…
Rule #1: Pay attention to what you’re reading.
This is something that should have been obvious but it isn’t. So many people read books without really paying attention to what they are reading. However, if you ever want to be successful with the strategies that I am teaching you today, then you should never do that. Read mindfully. Read with a purpose. Turn the reading of a book into a mystery you need to unravel. Would Hercule Poirot rush his viewing of a crime scene? Would Detective Monk consider any detail insignificant? No, they wouldn’t and neither should you.
In each and every book that I have ever read (and I have read more than 600 books in the last 5 years) there have always been hints in the plot that helped me figure out what was going to happen later in the book. Those hints can take many different forms. For example:
- A look can hint to underlying feelings or secrets between the two characters and especially a shared look.
- Words or phrases in dialogues can be used at hints as well.
- Insinuations are the harbingers of plot twists.
- Thoughts and feelings that no one elaborates on are ones that were meant to be forgotten by the reader because they’re usually hints to what’s going to happen next.
- Mysteriously lost items were 99% stolen and will be used against the protagonist sometime later in the book.
- Doors, windows, locks, etc. that were meant to be locked or closed and were found open mean that someone was there before the hero(-ine) looking for something.
The general rule is that whenever you read something in the book that strikes you as odd, it is probably a hint to the future of the plot.
Rule #2: Don’t ever ignore a hint.
Great, you have mastered the art of reading with a purpose. You have discovered all the little hints in the plot so far and you have reached a point where you read something you don’t like or that doesn’t match whatever you have read up to this point. What should you do?
Don’t ignore it!
I know that it is hard. Things were doing so well in the plot so far, so why should you allow that little hint to taint the perfectness of the plot? Well let me give you a great life lesson here:
If you only see what you want to see, you are blind. If you only hear what you want to hear, you are deaf. And if you only do what you want to do, then in the best case you are selfish. In any case, when you ignore the bad things that are happening around you and only pay attention to the parts that you like then you are crippling yourself and you are not going to like what happens when you finally wake up.
This means that you are never going to be able to predict what’s happening in a book, unless you learn not to ignore the hints that you don’t like.
Rule #3: Authors don’t have imagination.
Now, now… Before you kill me for this blasphemy let me explain what I mean. Authors can create beautiful words out of their imaginations. However, when it comes to tropes there is a finite number of tropes that authors use. Why? Because the plot needs to be believable and this means that authors need to curb their imaginations to only as much as they can actually pull off and still retain a believable plot. So, know your tropes. (Did this sound a bit like: ‘Eat your veggies?’ or is it just me?)
Rule #4: Pay very close attention to the prologue.
Usually if a book has a prologue then it is full of hints and clues to what is going to happen later in the book. So, read the prologue very very carefully.
Rule #5: Absolutes are an author’s best friend.
So, tell me did you ever find a scene in a book where a character had said “I would never…” or “I will always…” and then find him/her doing the exact opposite a few chapters later? Yeah, well, haven’t you heard? You should never say never.
And to expand on this concept…
Rule #6: Things left incomplete are probably a bad omen.
Was it a task left unfinished? Was it a promise that wasn’t spoken quite right? Was it a question purposefully left unanswered? Whatever it was, it will probably come back and bite you in the a**.
Rule #7: Pay particular attention to the promises/oaths given.
Do not be fooled by what is asked as a promise. What is expected of a promise and what is actually promised almost never coincide in books. It is the specific words of the one making the promise that you need to pay attention to. The same concept applies to curses spells, laws, rules, whatever that is binding and forbids a character from doing something.
Rule #8: When things are doing good expect something bad to happen.
Especially if you are in the barely in the middle of the book and all problems seem to be resolved. In this case, expect major crapdoodle in the immediate future.
Rule #9: Gregory House had it right.
Yes, I am talking about Dr. House from the TV show. For those of you who have not watched it, House was a doctor who used to diagnose his patient with the most insane illnesses and in the end he was almost always proved right. How did he do it? He took all the hints and clues he had and using his own knowledge and experience he would combine all of those things together to form a theory of what his patient could have been suffering from.
So take a hint from Dr. House and do the same in your own search. Let your imagination roam free. Every now and again put down the book and think about what you have read so far. Think of what could happen, of what the hints you’ve found might mean, of how the author is going to wrap up the story. And most importantly think of what could go wrong, search for the holes in the story, think of the things that don’t add up, think of how the “bad guys” could react and what they might use against the heroes of the story.
Think of all of those things and then read what’s next. Take another break and then read some more. But whatever you do…
Rule #10: Do NOT choose an ending.
But isn’t the point of this entire post to teach you how to predict the endings of books? So, why am I telling you not to choose an ending?
It is very simple actually. You should try to think of possible endings and you will eventually be able to predict what is most likely to happen in the end. However, choosing an ending is a different because by choosing an ending, you decide how you would prefer for the book to end. But what you think is the perfect ending and how the author has decided to end a story can be two very different things. So, by choosing your version over any other, you are again blinding yourself to all the hints that would have lead you accurately to the conclusion.
Aaaand these were the top 10 golden rules to follow when trying to predict a book’s ending.
Now it is your turn…
What are your thoughts on this post? Do you think I am right? Do you think there are any important rules that I have missed? Do you have anything to add in this post?
Are you any good at all at predicting plot twists and book endings? Do you like predicting plot twists and book endings or do you prefer to be surprised?
Tell me all about it in the comments below…