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Sarah
Welcome, friend! Relax & rest awhile, if you please. I'm an ordinary girl, a follower of Christ, mama to Gabriel, & wife to Evan. Here in this little space of the online world, I share all manner of bookish things, including full content reviews, writerly snippets, encouragement for everyday life, and a whole collection of names & their meanings.

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"The one who agrees with everyone agrees with no one."

- Norwegian Proverb -


Are you one of those writers who devour all those self-help articles and blog posts?  I know I am (when I make the time to read them. . .).  :]

I'm sure you've come across things that you don't exactly agree with.  And that's perfectly normal!  Here are a very select few of those items/topics that I think are worth adding to your novels.  That is, if they can only add to your story, don't confuse your reader (in ANY way), and don't take away from your story (in ANY way).

Curious?  Read on!


GLOSSARIES
Some writers/authors warn in adding a glossary to the front or back of your book, saying it takes away from the story and/or distracts the reader.  Some say if it is necessary for your readers---in order for them to fully understand the names, places, meanings, etc. of note in your story---then your story may be too complex and something needs to change.

I disagree.
In a post I shared last week, I believe I mentioned something of the sort regarding unpronounceable names.  In the matter of historical fiction, where we read of far-off countries and cultures, we probably never knew actually existed, and come across names and places that may be correctly pronounced differently than is written, then I say glossaries are necessary.  (A most recent read of mine that comes to mind is Wildwood Dancing, set in medieval Transylvania, where the main character's name is Jena, but pronounced zhe-nah.  I know I keep using that as a reference, but it's such a great book!!)

There are, of course, other genres where I believe these helpful pages of terms relating to the particular story are wonderful to have:  Fantasy!  
Fantasy, as well as Science Fiction, are genres where absolutely anything can happen.  The author is the sole designer of the world, the characters, the weapons, the tech---you name it.  Perhaps they have been influenced by other real-life cultures in creating races and countries for their own story.  They might then decide a list of terms is needed to help keep the reader on track.  In that case, it is my humble opinion a glossary is perfectly okay.  *thumbs up*

There is, however, a balance.  One can list far too much and completely unnecessary information that may in fact distract and/or confuse the reader.  So, if you are adding a glossary to your novel---be it whatever genre---keep it to the essentials!


PROLOGUES
Ah, the trusty prologue, which serves as the hook and worm to lure the unsuspecting reader in from the start.  (Or, at least, that is how I would define it).  Most of the time, the prologue sets the background of a story.  While I agree they are not entirely necessary in a novel, and some may even go so far as to say the prologue can give away too much of the story from the beginning, I think there is [again] a balance in how they are used.

This may be something you as the writer must come to the conclusion on your own.  No one else knows your story as you do.  If you are going for the vagueness and intrigue of keeping your reader on their toes and scratching their heads, then mayhaps you shouldn't consider a prologue.  But if some great event triggered in the distant past has a direct effect on the present setting in your story, then it may be ideal for an opening introductory chapter.

(This particular item bothers me none at all.  Buuuuuutttt. . . that may be due in part to the teensy fact my current WIP begins with a one. . .  heheh)

Ultimately, it is up to the author to decide.  I do not personally believe there is any right or wrong choice. 


WIDE VOCABULARY
I have, you may recall, a couple posts (here and here!) regarding the tip on expanding your use of vocabulary in your stories.  Do you remember why?  To me, and this is my personal opinion, a wider use of vocabulary adds depth and dimension to your story's narration.  

As with everything, there is a way to overdo it, of course.  But switching up your more common
words with those of stronger meaning will make a world of difference, believe you me. 

A post I read recently, though I do not remember when/where, oddly enough advised against using lesser known, uncommon words.  And it made perfect sense.  For example, if you are reading a new novel, you don't want the hassle of grabbing a dictionary (if you're old school) or your phone (which probably isn't that far out of reach, right?) and looking up definitions to multiple words in every other paragraph.  That is a distraction.  But, you also don't want to stick with "he said, she said, like, good, etc."  And, as another point, you don't want to throw in outrageous words that you're reader is sure NOT to understand, and most likely never knew existed in the English (or any other) language.  {Like these!  Did you know these are actual words with actual definitions?? exegesis, tenebrous, sacerdotal. Go on, click the links.  I was kind so you wouldn't have to go through the trouble. *wink wink*}


To everything, there is a balance.  Your story is yours to write.  It is wise to gather the advise and opinions of others, but ultimately it comes down to you deciding what's best and what works for your story.
Go forth and WRITE!


Are there any peeves that you find annoyingly irritating?  Do you disagree with some of the writerly posts you've read online?  Do share! 

Welcome to the weekend, dearies!  Have a lovely day!

Comments

  1. BLESS THIS POST! I'm totally with you on ALL of these.

    I'm always relieved when I find a glossary in a book, because I hate when I'm pronouncing a character's name wrong. And, like you said, the pronunciation depends on the language the names are based off of. Such as many Celtic names are gonna be pronounced MUCH different than what it looks like to us Americans. XD I do think there is a balance though. We shouldn't overwhelm our readers with crazy names and then say, "It'll be fine 'cause I'll put a glossary!" I really don't enjoy it when I have to flip over to the glossary every few minutes trying to remember how to pronounce all the crazy names. (Which has happened with MANY books I've read. Heh.)

    AND PROLOGUES. THANK YOU!!!!! I just...don't get this utter hatred for prologues. Yes, some people abuse them, but just 'cause SOME do, doesn't mean we should throw away the concept of prologues altogether. It's a good storytelling tool to write those enticing scenes that don't really take place in chapter one, but are vital to the overall story. It just frustrates me to know end how we're "not supposed" to use prologues. Ugggghhh. (Ahem. You hit on one of my big writing pet peeves, if you haven't noticed. ;D But it's so great to find someone else who is actually okay with prologues! *high-fives*)

    And a wide vocabulary is a wonderful thing to have! My vocabulary grows so much BECAUSE of my love for reading. I love discovering new words. But yes, this one again needs balance. We don't want to frustrate our readers with over the top words plaguing every page. But writing too simply can be annoying as well. But the occasional clever wording choice can up the quality of a novel so, so much.

    And wow, this comment got long. o.O If you can't tell, I LOVED THIS POST! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I think we writers need reminding that it's OKAY to break the "Writing Rules" sometimes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I totally agree with this whole post.

    Glossaries are good mines for fantasy and sci-fi, but what drives me nuts is when they put in the words that I already know the meaning of and none of the mystery words...

    I also feel you on the prolouges, I have one or two of those myself :).

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
-Anonymous-

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