I feel like I should be reserving this title for one of the story pages, but it applies so perfectly. If you’re not familiar with the idiom, here’s the definition. Basically, it refers to the mess that can be created if you’ve committed to a complicated course of action but then change your mind partway through.
I mean, there’s certainly something to be said for remaining flexible. If the horse you’re on is about to keel over and leave you in the drink, you might as well get wet on your own terms. But where fiction is concerned, well, this kind of example burns my britches:
The link there is an article about a recent panel held by the creators of the Westworld TV show, which I’ve written about previously and which prides itself on keeping its audience guessing about its many mysteries and twists.
“Reddit has already figured out the third episode twist, so we’re changing that right now…”
That’s the quote from co-creator Jonathan Nolan regarding the development of Season 2. Now it’s not clear how much of the season has been plotted out at this point, and certainly I myself reserve the right for a creator to make changes they feel are for the better, even up to the eve of debut (though that last is far more doable in a webcomic than a TV production). But I take exception to this idea that because someone on social media happened to guess your plot point, you’re now going to change your course. Or horse, to get back to the idiom.
I’ve had people guess what was going to happen in Zombie Ranch. So what? One person’s obvious telegraph is another’s complete surprise, and if they’re involved enough in discussing what’s going to happen to be making these guesses, should you really be cheating them out of the satisfaction of following the clues you’ve dropped by yanking or altering your planned conclusion?
I feel like this is the ultimate toxic end result of a pop culture that cherishes surprises above all else and finds stories worthless if they are “spoiled.” Now even the writers are falling prey to that mindset.
And we all will most likely just end up a lot wetter and unhappier as a result.