Predictability and Writing: Your Opinion, Please

I recently had the same reaction as Tom Selleck’s character in Her Alibi when a couple of my regular readers had most of my story figured out before I’d written it.

It was predictable. My writing was predictable.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these are smart ladies who tend to figure out the plot of episodes and movies before they’re done. I do the same thing. That is why to me the important part of writing a good story is an enjoyable journey because I can, nine times out of ten, pick out the end of a mystery before it happens or predict that “big” twist that’s coming before the end.

But… to have two stories, back to back, be that predictable, bothers me.

If my writing is predictable, does that mean that I am, in essence, telling a story that I have told before? My characters are similar in many cases (they tend to be broken in some way and recovering from that because I like stories where they overcome that kind of thing in themselves in addition to the stuff around them) and since I write mysteries, predictably, there is a part where they identify the bad guy and the end comes.

I am a bit worried that I’m creating stuff that’s all the same, and who wants to read that?

I thought I’d work more in my science fiction areas or maybe a bit of fantasy to change things up some, but I have a poor track record of finishing my science fiction.

I thought I’d ask, then… How much predictability is too much?

In Her Alibi, his editor tells him its a comforting quality that his readers like. I put the question to all readers. What do you think of predictability?

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