When Do Predictable Books Work?

Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve written a discussion post, so please bear with me. 🙈 As you can probably tell from the title, today’s post is about predictable books and whether they help or hurt a story.

Before I started blogging, I would have said that I hated predictable books. I thought they were uninspired and boring. (I also hated contemporaries before I started blogging, but now, it’s one of my favorite genres so look at how far we’ve come.) My mentality was that if a book were predictable, then there was no point in reading it because I already knew what was going to happen. However, now I’ve come to appreciate some predictability, and I genuinely think it can add value to a story.

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Of course, my personal opinion may not represent every other reader’s. In order to have a more holistic view, I’ve gathered some not-so-scientific survey data from others in the community via Twitter. More than half of the responders said they didn’t like predictable books, but what’s most interesting are the responses for when predictability is appreciated.

Those who commented shared the sentiment that predictability doesn’t always prevent a reader from enjoying the story and, if anything, their final thoughts come down to the author’s execution. If the characters are lovable and the writing flows nicely, it’s interesting to see how an author puts their spin. Therefore, as Shealea commented, “Predictability can be endearing.”

Predictability is genre-dependent.

In my opinion, predictability is genre-dependent, meaning it’s appreciated and loved in certain genres more so than others. For example, contemporaries have more leeway for predictability than fantasy novels. Part of the enjoyment of reading a fantasy novel is experiencing the world-building. ✨ It’s unexpected and a key factor that sets it apart because while characters need to be full-developed regardless of the genre, world-building creates the setting and provides context in fantasy novels. (whereas in contemporary novels  Earth is just Earth)

The magic of Six of Crows (Whoo!! TV series announcement!) and the Percy Jackson books (We don’t talk about those movies.) is that Leigh Bardugo and Rick Riordan crafted magical, enticing worlds for even more amazing characters to adventure. Although they are tied into our world which is familiar, they are also uniquely their own which allows the authors to add their spin and take the story where they like. Since we as readers don’t know the full scope of the world, we also don’t know what can or cannot happen within it.

Sometimes we want predictable.

At the same time, as much as we enjoy being surprised, we may also want the comfort of knowing what’s going to happen. I read contemporaries to feel warm and fuzzy inside. Certain clichés are cliché for a reason, and reading them makes me happy. 💞 For example, I read a Kasie West novel because I know that my characters are going to end up happily ever after. Granted, I don’t enjoy being able to predict everything that happens before it actually happens, but I do enjoy seeing classic rom-com scenes interwoven into a romance of characters I can get behind.

Another great example of wanting predictability is when we read a retelling. We know the basic outline and structure of the story, but we want to see how an author takes it above and beyond. How are they different from the Disney movie? How will they rework a classic tale? For me, To Kill a Kingdom and the Lunar Chronicles are two examples of retellings that were predictable yet filled with fantastic characters and worldbuilding.

Execution is key.

Like many other readers, I love a great plot twist…keyword being great. One of my pet peeves is when an author writes something purely for shock value without giving the story any foreshadowing or proper development. Plot twists need to make sense in the broader scope of the story *cough cough Allegiant* The ending of Mark of Athena in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan is one of my favorite plot twists because it hit that perfect balance of heartstopping surprise and, yet, was somehow expected.

In the end, it’s not so much the predictability that affects a reader’s final rating on a book but rather how the author writes it into the story. A good plot twist leaves you wanting more, but something predictable can be just as satisfying. 🌟

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Are you a fan of predictable books? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments! 💕

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40 thoughts on “When Do Predictable Books Work?

  1. Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle says:

    You really encapsulated so many of my thoughts perfectly!! I agree that I like predictability in certain story structures, such as retellings or fantasy, but I also want there to be lots of original twists and takes. Contemporaries on the other hand I am happy to always read predictable ones haha! I loooove watching my favorite movies over and over again, and certain tropes are tropes for a reason- because they work so well. Like you said, it comes down to execution and writing style. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Ahh thank you so much Morgan ❤ I'm so happy you were able to connect with my post! I also love watching my favorite movies over and over again. 🙂 People always ask whether I'd get bored, but I think part of the enjoyment is that we know what's going to happen. AND that it's going to happen exactly the way we want 😉 It truly comes down to whether or not the author can execute it, and hopefully, we can both read more amazing books in the future!

      Like

  2. Dezzy @ The Thoughtful Voice says:

    This is such a great discussion post, Tiffany! I agree with you (and other readers) – execution definitely is key. I don’t mind being surprised or knowing where the story is going, as long as the book is written well and captivates my attention. I also love Kasie West’s books and other fluffy contemporaries for their predictability, since for contemporaries, plot doesn’t matter as much to me as characters do. As long as I love the characters, I don’t mind if the story is predictable. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Thanks for your support as always, Dezzy ❤ I think it's really telling that we all agree on execution being the most important aspect. I can love certain characters and the plotline, but if it isn't developed well, it's hard to love the story overall. and YESSS I love that we always bond over contemporaries 🙂 I think that it's also something that makes contemporaries sometimes tricky because they're either predictable but oh-so-amazing or predictable and boring :/ I think that's why I really enjoy Kasie West characters too because I really love the characters and are rooting for them throughout the story!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader says:

    I completely agree with you! Certain genres are more acceptably predictable, like romance/contemporary reads. I tend to read romance books because of their predictable HEA ending, because that’s what I might need at the time. Certain tropes also make books predictable, like the Chosen One in fantasy novels, but the books can still be enjoyable if they are executed well and if the author’s writing is beautiful/enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cindy says:

    I loved reading this! When I look for fantasy’s I normally look for something brand new but when I look for contemporaries (which is rare because I barely read them oops. Trying to work on that!) I tend to look just for a cute romance which ends nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kathy @ Books & Munches says:

    Like you said, it’s pretty genre-dependent. I don’t mind predictability in contemporary and romance at all. We know those are bound to end with a happily after after, or at least on a very positive note. I don’t mind that at all.
    The one thing I hate is when I’m able to foresee small details in the plot, twists that aren’t even “that” obvious but are still too obvious for my liking and all that, hah. It also depends on my mood though. Sometimes I can totally forgive all the predictability when other times the same things might get on my nerves. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Ohhh I get what you mean, Kathy!! If I’m not loving the story, constantly seeing predictable “twists” irk me because I’m just like “Really?? AGAIN??” It makes the story feel unoriginal :/

      However, when it’s executed realllyyy well, I get blown away, and that’s when I know I’ve come across a great book ❤

      Like

  6. Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink says:

    I think predictable books are nice from time to time, especially when you just need something familiar and you don’t want to use actual brain cells to read (does that make sense?) but i really love shocking and unique books, because…they are what makes books so special and awesome for me!? but also i think for me it’s mainly about execution, no matter how unoriginal the story might be if the characters are written and well and the plot and everything is produced in an amazing way…then i’ll still enjoy it?! this is such a great discussion ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      That makes sense! I also agree. Even if it’s something that’s very expected, I love seeing how an author writes the story and characters uniquely their own. And yes!! When I’m reading a predictable contemporary, I like that I can mentally check out and it’s not as exhausting to read (whereas with other genres I’m at the edge of my seat) Thank you so much for your sweet words, and I’m glad you enjoyed my post ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Marie says:

    This is such a great discussion, I loved it so much! ❤ I have to say that I don't mind a bit of predictability, especially in my contemporaries or romances, because I like sweet endearing happy endings and I'm all for fluffy books, even if they are a bit predictable, so what? Sometimes it's also comforting to read something predictable 🙂 but yes, in other genres, sometimes in fantasy, science-fiction or other genres, it's more thrilling to read when everything is so unpredictable and filled with twists and turns 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear Marie ❤ I'm completely the same with contemporaries. I love the sweet endings and ALL THE FLUFFF!! Sometimes, they can also be thrilling in their own ways, but usually I enjoy it the most with fantasies and science fiction 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. thebookishskies says:

    I love how you mentioned Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan books in general, because I think they’re a great example of how predictability can work. Even if I know that his books follow a typical formula and I don’t find myself being surprised at most of his twists, I still love them, because they give me a sense of familiarity that is so welcome. On top of that, I love his characters, and the uniqueness of them is what makes a predictable plot almost unnoticeable.
    Personally, if I love the characters and the setting, I don’t care for how predictable the book can be. I mean, I love rom-coms to death and there’s nothing more predictable than that! I do still take it into consideration when writing a review & rating a book, and I think I’m more likely to give a lower rating for books that, despise having well-developed and very interesting characters, didn’t surprise me at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Yes!! PJO and Uncle Rick are my favorite ❤ I completely agree that they're familiar in a fun way. It keeps them incredibly enjoyable. and YESSS I love all the characters so much 🙂

      I think many people share a similar sentiment that they prioritize the characters and setting the most. It can still make a predictable story extremely enjoyable as long as it's written well. Thank you so much for reading my post! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Julianna @ Paper Blots says:

    Yes, I completely agree with this post! While I love twisty and turning and completely surprising/unique stories, it’s also nice to read something familiar that I can predict, especially if it’s a trope that I enjoy 😊 I’m okay with predictable twists but yeah, it comes down to the execution. If everyone is going to be predicted beforehand I want the author to put emphasis on the writing, on the tension, on the characters!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Yay!! I’m so happy that you were able to relate to this post ❤ I think there's a reason why predictable, enjoyable books still do so well because there's a market for them. 🙂 It really says a lot of an author's ability when they're able to execute it so well! Thank you so much for your sweet words on my post!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kay Wisteria says:

    Love this post! I definitely usually don’t want predictable, but agree that sometimes it’s nice in contemporary–some of my favorite contemporaries follow the basic girl and boy get together at the end formula but that doesn’t stop me from loving them ❤

    Like

  11. Kelly Brigid says:

    LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH!!! ❤ I absolutely agree with every word you said! I give much more leeway with predictability in contemporaries, than I do with fantasy/sci-fi novels, but it ultimately comes down to its execution!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      YAYAYAYAY!! I’m so happy you loved this post Kelly ❤ I definitely added your input to my post, especially the part about contemporaries 🙂 I agree with you so much that it's nice to have that predictability. But of course, with fantasy/sci-fi, we need that surprise sometimes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

    I don’t mind predictable books too much! I mean, a plot twist so shocking it blows you out of your window is amazing, but I’m not going to say, “Eh. I didn’t like it. It was too predictable” if I liked everything else! Execution is more important for me, because if you don’t end up falling in love with the characters and world, no amount of unpredictability can redeem it in my opinion (except for books that DEPEND on twists like thrillers or mysteries).

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      I totally get what you’re saying! It always ends up coming down to the execution because if I love the characters, the plot, the writing, and everything about it, being predictable doesn’t bother me that much. I also completely agree with what you said about no redemption for unpredictability. It’s definitely a pet peeve when people just throw in a bunch of plot twists that are out of the blue and don’t make sense with the greater story 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. facingthestory says:

    I love this discussion post so much! I’ve always loved unpredictable books, Thrillers are my favourite so I guess it makes sense why I prefer unpredictable endings. However, I do agree with you that we sometimes need something a bit less challenging and easy to read and it’s so great that there are so many options available in this respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      Aww I’m so glad you enjoyed this discussion! It’s definitely genre-dependent, and it really comes down to what you’re hoping to read at the moment. I also prefer my thrillers to be unpredictable (because I feel like that’s the point!) and when I’m in the mood for something like a contemporary, I don’t mind predictability 🙂

      Like

  14. Cailin @ Rose Petal Pages says:

    This is such an interesting discussion topic! I never thought I liked predictability, but the points you’ve mentioned make a lot of sense and to a certain extent it’s nice to know that you have some kind of handle on some of the stories you’re reading. I also completely agree with the Mark of Athena plot twist, it was done soo well.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Clo @ Book Dragons says:

    Ah yes to this post Tiffany! I enjoy predictable books sometimes, as it’s not as stressful or draining figuring out what’s going on with who and then the world. As well as trying to guess ahead only to find out you’re wrong and bam…your fav character is dead. I’ve always enjoyed contemporary books for this reason actually, as I love my paranormal and fantasy books but geez…the world building and magic systems we have to get our heads round sometimes haha

    Liked by 1 person

  16. thebloggerandthegeek says:

    I love predictable books – when it comes to romance. Otherwise, when I’m reading different genres – such as dystopia, YA, fantasy, etc – I prefer something completely different and not predictable 🌸 (but not to the extent that you kill main characters just for the sake of being non-predictable.)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators says:

    I generally want predictability in my contemporaries. Especially since there have been times when the synopsis promised me a cute, predictable contemporary and then it ended up being a genre bending book just for a plot twist. I was not happy.

    But on the other hand I appreciate that same surprise in fantasy books. I don’t mind if the general storyline is predictable – a dethroned princess, a rebellion, etc. – but I want the author to twist the story on it’s head a bit to make it stand out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tiffany @ readbytiffany says:

      I would feel the same way! Contemporaries are something I read to feel light-hearted and happy, so if there’s unpredictable plot twists that I didn’t expect, I would hate it!

      It really comes down to execution, and I really look forward to read how an author spins the tale 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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