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Another questionnaire readers [Mar. 28th, 2009|11:35 am]
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I’m working on the character list for both the website and the book itself.  My own personal character list is organized by location and association (that is, all the Duke’s Company names together, all the Tsaian nobility together,  all the Girdish Marshals/paladins/etc. together.)

But it’s readers who will use this for something other than trying to ensure I don’t have fifteen names that all look and sound very similar in the same scene…which is what I use it for.   My editor will rule on what appears in the book(s) but please tell me your preferences for character name lists ( questions follow.)  

Part One: who’s included

A) All characters however minor (i.e., someone who doesn’t have any speaking lines, or only one or two, and appears only once, gets a mention.  Anyone with a name, offstage or on.)

B) All characters who have a real role in relation to a major character:  the main POV characters, the secondary characters, and many of the tertiary characters

C) Major and secondary characters only

D) Major characters only

NOTE: the more characters you want listed, the longer and more complicated (in terms of finding things) the list will be.

Part Two:  how much information about them?

A) Brief, one-phase description (e.g., for Kieri, his full name and “King of Lyonya”)

B) Explanation of relationship to POV characters (”Dorrin’s assistant cook”)

C) The above, plus a personality squib: (”Dorrin’s bossy, talkative head cook”)

D) The above, plus a plot connection where one exists (NOTE: no serious plot connections are possible until a book has been out for a year: spoilers R not us.)

E)  Connections to the previous book (”Stammel: sergeant in Arcolin’s cohort and also Paks’s recruit sergeant in The Deed of Paksenarrion.”)

F)  Notation of the Paksworld books the character appears in, by itself (if with one of the above, list both.)

Part III:  what order should they be in

A) Association &/or location:  (groups all Duke’s Company together, all Tsaian nobility together, all Lyonyan nobility together, all members of major families together, etc.)  This is the order I personally find most useful (and the order the list is in now.)

B) Order of appearance in the book.

C) Order of relative importance (major POV characters first, then lesser ones: Kieri, Arcolin, Dorrin at the top,  Dorrin’s third guardsman on a trip to Verella at the bottom.)

D) Alphabetical order

It would be easiest for me to use the list I have; it contains variable amounts of information, as I needed them for my purposes in writing.  Thus I have “Kolya Ministiera, veteran, Duke’s East (Paks I-III, Kieri I-II)”   Most but not all the carry-over characters have a notation of which book they were in, as I checked to make sure they were alive before using them again in the new books.

As I said, the editor will no doubt have the dominant input on this for the book itself–they know how much space they have–but I can put more on the website.  And if anyone has a complete list from the original five books in Paksworld, I’d be delighted (delighted!!!) to see it.   I was unable to find the reference notebooks I made while writing Paks and carefully put away. 




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[User Picture]From: bibliofilen
2009-03-28 05:58 pm (UTC)
1. Somewhere between B and C.
2. A, B and possibly E.
3. As is, A.

If you have lists why not use them? They seem more likely to contain the information I need as a reader in relation to a certain character than if you're keeping slavishly to a rule.

Also, a big thank you for including these lists! Not all authors do..
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From: bibliogirl
2009-03-28 06:06 pm (UTC)
1) C shading to B if you have room.

2) This may depend on whether you're expecting that the majority of readers will be familiar with the previous books. If so, A & B; if not, A, B and maybe some E where it is important/useful to know.

3) A if at all possible, otherwise C. (I would not find B or D especially useful, I don't think.)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 10:21 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to expect after 20-odd years. I'm hoping, of course, that the Paksenarrion readers will leap on the new books like geese on corn, but I'm also hoping that people who "joined up" with the SF books--the Serrano/Suize and Vatta books--will try them out. My editor and boss want to be sure that readers new to the series won't feel they have to buy five other books to know what's going on...hence their thought to use a character list in the book. To be honest, I usually don't read those even if they're given--I take the characters as they appear in the book--but I know they're useful to some (and if Tolstoy had had one, I might have made it through _War and Peace_, instead of wimping out after a few chapters, so I do understand the need.)

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[User Picture]From: kriz1818
2009-03-28 06:10 pm (UTC)
Does this mean there won't be multiple cameos by guys named Arvid this time around? :grin:

1. B (using judgment about what "real role" means)

2. B and E (F would be pointless - anyone who really cares will re-read the books often enough to memorize them anyway)

3. A and, on the website only, D
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[User Picture]From: cedunkley
2009-03-28 06:20 pm (UTC)
Before I put my answers, one question: Will there also be a location list, naming kingdoms, cities, towns, mountain ranges, etc.?

Now, my answers to your character list questions:

  1. B) would be my main preference, though A) would be cool as well.

  2. A), B), E) and F)

  3. A)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 07:29 pm (UTC)
The location list already exists, on the website:
http://www.paksworld.com/places.html. I don't think they're considering putting that in the books, but they do want a map. It will not include everything, not at the scale that fits in a book.

A list of peoples (not characters) is also on the website:

Unfortunately, I do not have time to do a full cross-referenced database layout of characters so readers can hunt for a name by some other reference field (occupation/location/association) or check a name to find out about that person's occupation/location/association. The first volume's list of character names alone is 4 single-spaced pages. The abundance of names is the reason that my editor and her boss thought of having a character list especially for those new to this story universe.

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[User Picture]From: magentametrix
2009-03-28 06:37 pm (UTC)
From 15-y.o. son (also a fan) and me:

Who's included: B (those with a real role)

How much info: B (name and relationship) and E (connection to previous books)

Order: Son wants A (by group). I'd prefer C (relative import)

A character list is a useful addition. Saves my turning down the corner of pages whenever someone new is introduced.
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[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2009-03-28 06:39 pm (UTC)
1 - B or C; I find having all the really minor characters distracting. Some of whether I prefer B or C depends on how you define teriary

2 - E with minor refinements. Name, relationship, immediate quirk, and where the person is. Important figures who come and go should get more than ones who are important but all of their stuff is in one chunk.

3 - A and alphabetize within that
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[User Picture]From: paksenarrion2
2009-03-28 07:40 pm (UTC)
1. B
2. A combination of A & B with E thrown in where applicable.
3. B

I actually had a written listing of all the characters from the original 5 Paksworld books. I think it got lost in a previous move but I will take a look and see if I can find it.

yes, I am a big Paks geek. Not that you couldn't tell by my user name.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 10:11 pm (UTC)
If you can find it, you're my hero!
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From: gramina
2009-03-28 07:45 pm (UTC)
1: A/B
2: A, B, D, F
3: D!!!!!
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From: morgan_dhu
2009-03-28 07:51 pm (UTC)
I love character lists in books. Also, place names with brief descriptions of where they are in relation to other places and key connections to major characters if any.

Part One: A if possible, But I can be content with B.
Part Two: A, B, E, maybe F
Part Three: A. Definitely. Within A, either by relative importance or alphabetically.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 10:13 pm (UTC)
Place names are on the website (not all, but many, and all the regions):

The Paksworld website will have even more useful information later, including the character list, but for now it's got places and peoples.
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[User Picture]From: gunhilda
2009-03-28 08:26 pm (UTC)
1. B or C
2. B (E would be interesting, too)
3. A or D, although D might be most useful for me, personally
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[User Picture]From: neshel
2009-03-28 09:14 pm (UTC)
1) Somewhere between C and B. I would say C, but it depends on how many characters there are that reoccur, especially in books this long.

2) A and B. E might be handy too, but I can see how it would get cumbersome. Maybe some combination of B and E? Depending on what's relevant to understanding the story if your memory isn't feeling to sharp?

3) A would definitely be most useful from my POV. D makes it easier to find a character, but I think A is more useful in that it gives information on who they are just from the nature of the groupings and might lessen how much description you need to include.
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From: vcmw
2009-03-28 09:20 pm (UTC)
I) B
II) C & E
II) A, though it would be nice if the most important person/people in each grouping comes first in the groupings. (A modified by C?)

I haven't re-read the Paksenarrion books in at least 4 or 5 years now, so I'm thinking I will need a lot of catching up.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 10:14 pm (UTC)
Stop by http://www.paksworld.com/, the website dedicated to this story universe.

There's also a blog, but the website will have the majority of the background data you might want/need.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 11:08 pm (UTC)
Holy...umph. OK, I doubt this will be possible since there are so many characters (it's a LONG story arc). Or you may have to refer to the website. (Hint for all: you may want to cozy up to the website as it expands and familiarize yourselves with locations, groups of people, etc., so when you get to the book you feel at home....)
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[User Picture]From: exapno
2009-03-28 09:48 pm (UTC)
I) B
II) C or B, E, F

That said, based your sample the list as-is sounds quite nice too :)
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[User Picture]From: pgranzeau
2009-03-28 10:09 pm (UTC)
One: B.
Two: B and E.

I use a character list to remind myself just who (whom?) the character is if I don't recognize him or her. If the character is from a previous book, that may also be helpful. No extensive description is necessary, however.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-03-28 10:18 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking the editor won't want to spend more than a page on characters and that's really not enough...so the website list (when I get it in place) will be the one for serious looking up.

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