In 2011 the University of San Diego’s psychology department researched the way readers react to stories where the end is revealed at the beginning.
Subjects were given a dozen short stories by a range of famous authors. Some were in their original form while others included a paragraph that gave away the ending or a crucial twist. The result?
“Subjects significantly preferred the spoiled versions of ironic-twist stories, where, for example, it was revealed before reading that a condemned man’s daring escape is all a fantasy before the noose snaps tight around his neck…”
That suggests it’s not what happens next that drives the reader to turn the page (or carry on viewing) but wondering why it happened. And now I’ve written that I can only think of the wonderful Columbo or Martin Amis’ Time’s Arrow….there are others, aren’t they?
You can read more about the research by clicking HERE