Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Extra's and Add On's

I'm just throwing it out there, but do any of you like extras in book's? As in glossary's, map's, illustration's, chapter logo's, dramatis personae section's and anything else of that nature?

I do, so long as the illustrations live up to the work (or vice versa) map's so long as they give a better feel for the story at large and are not ridiculous blobs of ink with even more ridiculous sounding place names (I'm talking to you, Terry Brooks)

I definitely like chapter logo's if they are unique, the best example I can think of at the moment is Robert Jordan's, Wheel of Time series, on the down side of that sometimes you know you are going to read a chapter about a lame character like Nynaeve (she sucks the life out of anything good) Lan should have his own books!

With a book that has as many characters as I have I do think Dramatis Personae section's and glossary's help. As a kid I fell in love with the Tolkien glossary's and I am strongly leaning towards including one if the Publisher will allow it. I am getting a map too, but that's a controversial subject and I am worried it may be better not to have one, than have one I don't approve of-but we'll see.

So what do you, the readers of refined taste think?


Th. said...


Since I don't tend towards fiction that is dense in that way, I tend to see those as a warning sign that this is going to take more effort than the payoff will justify. In other words, I've been burned too many times. But I know plenty of people for whom that is a major turn on.

And I wouldn't say I DISlike them either. I appreciated the map and glossary in Watership Down, for instance.

So basically I agree with you: they, the text and the extras, should work together.

David J. West said...

Hurrah for Frith!

I love Watership Down and didn't even remeber it when I composed this post.

Part of my reasoning for a glossary is, the book is epic, lots of characters to keep track of and even utilizing predominately the B of M, some people could get lost in the names. That and I am trying to boil down the years of research that have gone into the books. Soif there is a vague question, the glossary may have it. That and I like to throw teasers into my glossary as well, more detail that just didn't quite fit in right.

Treats for the reader if they are so inclined to care.

Brian Murphy said...

Chalk me up for liking the extras. I've used the "Kings and the Courts" appendix in the Song of Ice and Fire series quite a bit to keep the characters straight.

The Appenidices in The Lord of the Rings are an entity unto themselves as they contain their own stories that enrich and inform Middle Earth.

David J. West said...

So pleased to have you comment Brian.

I also think of the Appenidices in The Lord of the Rings as something very special too. They represent the pinnacle of achievement in relation to extra's.

Karlene said...

This is my two bits as a reader, not as a former publisher...

Maps—YES! I get so lost if people are journeying all over. A good map makes all the difference for me.

If you're writing an epic with lots of people, I love the character section, and if you make up a bunch of words, yes, I love the glossary too.

Chapter logos are fine. Sometimes they're good, sometimes annoying.

(And how dare you say that about Nynaeve?! If her friends were more responsible, she wouldn't have to be such a stick in the mud. Also, she must have some redeeming characteristics or Lan wouldn't go for her. :)

David J. West said...

You make me laugh Karlene. I give if Lan loves her there must be something good there.

Kimberly said...

I never read the extras, and always feel mildly guilty over my neglect. I especially don't care for the list of characters, since if I can't keep them straight I figure I'm not paying enough attention or the book isn't gripping enough. I do think maps and whatnot are a good idea though, as many people (unlike me) are very visual like that.

David J. West said...

Thanks for dropping by Kim

I like extra's if they are done well as I said above. My thoughts on a character list isn't because I think it isn't gripping the reader but that there are so many of them to keep track of. The glossary I am putting together I think will reward the reader should they choose to look at it, but you sure don't have too.

Probably a carryover for my love of Tolkien and to have evn more detail that didn't have to be in the book. The item I am most proud of in the glossary is I can tell what every single obscure name means, regardless of how hard some of them were to track down. I did it, don't think anybody else has gone to that depth yet as far as reformed-egyptian names goes.