Adding a glossary

HareBrain

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I'm compiling a glossary to stick in the end of book 2, partly to give a fighting chance to people who haven't read book 1, or read it a while before book 2. The only model I can find is the one Stephen Donaldson uses for his Thomas Covenant books, but that seems needlessly comprehensive. So what I've decided is to include any person, object, place or concept etc that is mentioned anywhere in book 2 but which isn't adequately defined (or memory-jogged) in that same scene (so no bit-part named characters who appear once and are never referred to again). I'm also planning to leave out the POV characters.

Does that sound about right?

One particular issue is whether to alphabetise people by their forenames or surnames. For example, Siegfried Astrasis is sometimes referred to as Siegfried, sometimes as Astrasis and sometimes by his full name. I can't use Donaldson's as a model here because none of his characters have two names. If anyone has an SF book with a glossary, how is it done there?
 
I have no expertise in glossaries, but I would think the two-named characters ought to go in under whatever they were referred to first. That's when someone would be looking them up, right?
 
I would think the two-named characters ought to go in under whatever they were referred to first. That's when someone would be looking them up, right?

Possibly, but it might be clear who they are from context the first time, and not the second. In any case, you think it would be OK to be inconsistent, if that were clearer?
 
I'd personally separate out the glossary (objects/concepts) from the character and place lists to make each of them shorter and less unwieldy. I'd also make sure there was a note at the front directing people to the lists at the back of the book!

As to the character list, are you going to have one list with all names in order, or do you plan to split them between where they live/first are seen etc? The Guy Gavriel Kay I've just bought splits his character list so he has 6 subheadings of "The Five", "In Brennin" and the like. In "The Five" there are 5 (yes, really) people named, all of whom have a first and surname, but because there are only 5 of them there's no difficulty finding them under either name (I've no idea how they are called within the book). Most of the other characters appear to have only one name, but again those with two or more names would be easy to find in the relevant sections.

If you're having one long list, then I'd have something like "Siegfried: see The Prelate" so I'd only have the full description of him in one place but he could be located via any names you use. Although, as TDZ says, people might look him up the first time he's named, they might forget he has the alternative/additional name there so not realise it's the same person if they can't find him by eg "Astrasis" as well.
 
Perhaps you should just go back and make sure that the first time anyone is named, they are referred to by all possible referents. Yes, this will lead to dialogue such as "My brother, Prelate Siegfried Astrasis, says..." but it will be clear. :whistle:
 
My publisher put a short glossary of British slang at the back of Hand of Glory. It was fun to do.
 
Perhaps you should just go back and make sure that the first time anyone is named, they are referred to by all possible referents. Yes, this will lead to dialogue such as "My brother, Prelate Siegfried Astrasis, says..." but it will be clear. :whistle:
This is exactly what is happening with me : ex-Emperor, Roamer-king, one time rebel and son of a bitch .... :D
 
Bryan, do you have any volume from Riyria revelations of Michael J. Sullivan ? He included one in each of them. The first two volume from his chronicles have one, too.

Examples:
ALBURN: Kingdom of Avery ruled by King Armand and Queen Adeline, member of the New Empire
ALENDA LANAKLIN: Duaghter of Marquis Victor Lanaklin and sister of Myron the monk
APELANESE: Language spoken throughout the four kingdoms of men
ARISTA ESSENDON: Princess of Melengar, daughter of Amrath, sister of King Alric
ART, THE: Magic, generally feared due to superstition
AVEMPARTHA: Ancient eleven tower, home of Gilarabrywn, which attacked Dahlgren
DAHLGREN: Remote village on the bank of the Nidwalden River, destroyen by Gilarabrywn
GILARABRYWN: Elven beast of war, one escaped Avempartha and destroyed village of Dahlgren before being killed by Thrace
WESBADEN: Major trade port city of Calis
 
Examples:

That's pretty much what I'm going for, thanks. In his books, are people generally best known by their first names?

As to the character list, are you going to have one list with all names in order, or do you plan to split them between where they live/first are seen etc?

Just one list, I think. I've seen the groupings done in dramatis personae lists, usually at the front of the book, and they can be effective, but I think a single list at the back would be cleaner, and means I wouldn't have to decide which list a marginal case belongs to.
 
David Weber includes a pretty comprehensive character list in the back of each Safehold book, but personally I don't think it really needs to be so complete - I mean, I don't really need to remember the name of the innkeeper's second daughter in a small village passed though by our heroes unless she's going to play a crucial role 3 volumes on.

The glossary in Frank Herbert's Dune is pretty good - not overlong, but a useful reference to the specialist words from the various cultures.

What really annoys me is when you're really enjoying the book, think you've at least 50 pages left, and then you discover that the last 40 pages are a glossary, a character list, and a sample of the first 20 pages of the next volume in the series...
 
I put a glossary and character reference in the back of Thumar, my first. I did it for the readers who might need a refresh on a character or science term later on. I don't know if it's effective or not, yet. I put it in for the numerous new science terms I introduced.
 
By last name has the advantage of grouping all family members together.
Another possibility is by order of appearance. I've seen that done, though not specifically in fantasy.
I agree with not including anyone unless they appear in multiple chapters/scenes.
Also agree with separating character list from glossary of terms. Make sure you put both into the Table of Contents.
 
Larry Niven always put a character list in every book (a "Dramatis Personae") which I always found useful. In my experience, younger authors seem to put their glossaries and additional material online, on webpages instead i.e. Jasper Fforde. The advantage is that helps give them an online community. Personally, I think anything that is required to read the book should be in the book. There have even been films released that you couldn't fully make sense of, unless you read the associated material online i.e. Donnie Darko
 
@HareBrain I've seen a lot of different glossaries - they're common in Epic Fantasy, particularly in examples like @The Bluestocking mentioned (Malazan series), but these can vary considerably depending on a number of factors like whether there's an invented language (or even ancient/uncommon language) and - especially - how long the glossary is. Been looking into it for my own stuff, so I've been paying more attention than usual to this kind of thing. I'd suggest:

Firstly, how many pages is it? If you've only got a couple of pages, then there's no real benefit to subdividing the glossary into like terms (e.g. nations, gods, characters) as readers can find everything really easily. You can still do it if you like, of course, but probably won't make much difference to the average reader.

Consistency is important - whether you list characters alphabetically by first name, last name, or whatever should (usually) apply across any groups. It can be tricky if, for example, a character is referred to by a title/name for most of the book but that name isn't how you're ordering the glossary, but I'm sure I've seen it done.

Examples that spring to mind are the Malazan books (very long so subdivided into groups) and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series. Hearne frequently uses old gaelic language as well as others, as well as has whole courts of gods from different religions in it, and I think that the language glossary may help with yours. Both of those, if I remember, are at the front of kindle editions of the books, so you can probably view them on Amazon when you open the preview. If not, I've got both so can check - from memory, though, Hearne's gaelic reference may be closer to your story world/language and could serve as a template.

I think Ben Aaronovitch (rivers of London series), Peter V. Brett, and maybe one or two others could be close enough to your needs to be worth a look at the kindle preview.

HB, I probably won't be around the forums much over the next few days (prolonged stress at day job which has left me rather lacking in the memory, judgement, and concentration areas:() but PM/email me if you can't view the previews and I'll check my books - it won't take long:) I've been meaning to drop you a line about TEP anyway...

A lot, I reckon, depends on your own taste, and the length/depth of detail of the glossary - but consistency with it (or each section of it) is probably your friend. Other than that I'd say it's personal preference as to order - I've seen glossaries done just about every way imaginable.:eek:

The one I've been working on definitely fits on the detail-oriented end of the spectrum. I have templates in Scrivener!:D
 
Firstly, how many pages is it?

The draft one I've done is about five. So far I'm leaning towards just having a single list, similar to the one @Alexa gave examples from in #9. I don't think there are enough characters to usefully group them, unlike in Malazan; it's more for places and terms, especially terms from TGP referred to in the sequel without much explanation.

I'll check out your examples, though -- probably popping into Waterstones later today.

(And I hope the work stress resolves itself.)
 

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