I know the Average How-To’s are over, but I just remembered this one the other day, and I didn’t want you to miss it!
It was during the midnight premier of the Batman movie, when I leaned over and said: “I didn’t know they were introducing Robin in this movie”. Turns out we weren’t supposed to know until the end and I ruined it for my friend. Oops, sorry Sophie.
So, here goes: How to predict the end of the world (which actually has nothing to do with the end of the world).
I happen to have a bizarre ability to be able to predict the outcomes of mystery situations in books, movies, and television shows. (Ex: by the end of Criminal Minds, CSI, Bones, or any other cop/murder mystery show you can think of, I usually always know who the killer is and their motivation.)
I can do this for books too. It annoys my sister to no end (that’s Edith by the way). She hates it when I spoil things, but I like to say my predictions out loud so there’s a witness to my great–and useless–ability.
So, I thought I would share with you my guide on how to solve these mysteries for yourself.
Writers often go for the unexpected, so when you have this in mind, it makes it easier to look for the real clues. What are the endings that we’re all familiar with? He was dead the whole time, she has an evil twin (thanks soap operas), it was the wife/husband, the dog ate the homework. Okay, so not the last one, but you get my drift.
Well, now that you know what it’s not going to be–unless the writer is still stuck in the 90s and refuses to come out–you can look for the signs that will point you to the real end.
#1: The killer (or any other bad guy) is almost always introduced in the beginning. He or she tends to be what I like to call a pass-over character; now you see them, now you don’t. Maybe it’s a friend introduced along with one of the main characters, maybe it’s the mailman delivering a package. This character will usually have some form of dialogue, maybe a line or two, or they will be specifically pointed out by one of the main characters. The writers do this to create a solid base for the character; one that is vague enough that the reader tends to ignore it, or pass over it.
#2: This person is almost never the main suspect. In some cop shows they will automatically rule out people in the very beginning until they are left with one suspect who they can’t seem to find; this is not the plotline I’m talking about. I’m talking about the shows that leave you wondering who the bad guy is until the very end. And like I said before, it’s hardly ever the person they are focusing on. If you look at rule number one, you’ll see that I mentioned a friend of the main character, or someone they meet towards the beginning of the story. This person does not tend to show up randomly at the end of the story (though there are always exceptions). The writer needs time to build their character; after all, murderers are complicated people. You can’t just dunk someone in crazy, they have to get there somehow. Look for someone who has been touched upon enough that you would consider them a character, but is not one of the main focuses.
#3: Motive. This is where your creative and sleuthing brains will need to come into play. Every bad guy, even serial killers, has a motive. And I’m not talking a Dr. Dracon’s going to take over the world kind of motive. The writer isn’t going to pull something random out of their butt like: his evil twin’s dinosaur ate his homework. The motive will be based in some sort of fact/reality. Look for the person that would have an unexpected motive; something a little less obvious than inheriting money from the will and becoming a millionaire. (This is a bit tricky, however, because you usually don’t have enough information to know motives until you’re getting toward the end of the book. Most writers keep it that way so it’s not obvious until they tell you who the killer is). Keep this in mind along the way, and you’ll be able to better guess who the bad guy is.
#4: This is my last tip, and I saved it for last because it does not tend to be as constant as the others. Look at the people in the main character’s inner sanctum, look at the people they trust. A lot of the time–and this is becoming more and more common–the writer will pull the bad guy from one of these people. It will be someone the main character thought they could trust, etc. etc. who ends up betraying him/her in the end.
So that’s all of them. My steps for being the first to solve a mystery, and then being able to rub it in everyone else’s faces saying: Ha! I told you so. Don’t lie, you know you like to be able to do that as much as the rest of us averages!
Holy crap! It’s raining so hard outside my window that everything is just a sheet of gray. Weird…and totally not on point. Oh well, when do I ever really have a point?!
Yours, Forever and Average,