|Speak To Me Of Spoilers
||[Apr. 16th, 2011|04:34 pm]
I'm going to relaunch Elcenia soon. By my estimates, unless I cut out a decent chunk of content, the material already written will (when condensed and rewritten) comprise 7 (possibly 8) novels, 7 series of novellas/shorts, 12 standalone novellas, and 6 individual short stories.|
A lot of these things take place concurrently, or partially concurrently. The first three things I'm going to write - a novel titled "Summons", a five-novella series titled "Blood", and a three-novella series titled "Silver" - overlap considerably. Summons begins at the chronologically earliest point I plan to cover; Blood starts during Summons but ends close to the last chronological point I plan to cover. (Some things happen in other stories after the end of Blood, but they're mostly either on another continent or a "next generation" sort of thing.) Silver starts near where Summons ends, and ends during Blood. All of these stories share significant numbers of characters, too, although they're focusing on different plot threads. Subsequent stories form similar overlapping clusters.
Speaking of characters...
Dear lord does Elcenia ever have a lot of characters. I was once challenged to name 50 of them from memory. I did 200. Without looking anything up. (I did name several dead characters to achieve this feat, but I also left out a bunch whose names I couldn't remember readily.) Even if I pare away as many extraneous individuals as I can, there's still a lot of characters. Oh god so many characters.
I cannot do without some form of character reference here. I mean, I know who everybody is and if you give me a big enough sheet of paper I could get at least 60% of them onto a single family tree from memory. But my readers would be lost, the poor lambs.
I don't know, though, how to make the character reference interact with spoiler potential.
For example: take a character I'll call Sister so you don't know who she is later on when you read Elcenia. Sister has a long-lost brother who I'll call Brother. While this relationship is (intended to be) fairly obvious once Brother is introduced, it is not something you know about Sister when she is introduced. If someone opens up the first chapter of Summons, meets Sister, and then goes and looks her up in the character reference, her page must not state the correct number of brothers that she has, because that's a spoiler for a later revelation. So such a page must either lie about or omit Sister's sibling-having status.
But, after this information is made known, the spoiler-safe page is actively misleading. The reference page is there to help readers keep track of the characters: there is a nonzero chance that a reader who looks up Sister has read past the revelation about Brother, but is having enough of a challenge keeping track of the cast list that ey will be badly misled by a spoiler-free page.
I don't know how to model the spoiler-averse brain, because I don't have one (the government took away the one I was studying, and its mason jar too). Somebody who doesn't like spoilers, please tell me what you would like a character reference page for Sister to look like so I can decide on how to present this type of content.