A thing of the past, or the latest trend?
Many books in the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres have dozens of characters. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy comes to mind anytime this topic comes up; it’s myriad characters nearly had me taking notes. My own suspense novels have been criticized as having too many for the reader to keep up with. A reader told me she actually did take character notes when reading She’s Not There, my first novel.
A friend who also writes suspense is adding a character list to her latest novel and I’m thinking of following suit. These lists will be added to the end of the book for those readers who care to use them.
Some things to think about when adding a list:
1. Only list a character that will be appearing more than once in the book or the list will get too long.
2. Include the entire name, title, and nickname of each character if one is used.
3. Add the list to the end of the book for the benefit of the person reading the digital version. It won’t clutter the opening pages, and will be easy to refer to at the end.
4. Be sure to include it in the contents as you would a chapter so the reader knows it’s there and where to find it.
5. Make each character description brief, but be sure it explains their purpose and also their relationship to the main character.
Please let us know, if, as a reader of books, you would appreciate having a character list for reference, and also, if you are aware of other authors using this tool.
Character lists were common in books during the forties and the fifties, but seem to have lost their popularity ever since. As an avid reader myself, I’d love to see them make a comeback!
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