Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Finished! With Black Dog #3

Okay so this past weekend was like:

In fact this whole spring has kind of been like:

Very disappointing — would not buy again

But hey, being trapped inside for 48 hours while rain poured and winds blew gave me all the time in the world to write 51 pages and finish the dratted manuscript of Shadow Twin. I had been kinda stuck and also busy with other things. As it happened, I worked out exactly what should happen in the last couple of chapters just last week, so I was ready to go Saturday at 5:00 AM. Because I was up at 4:00, see, because did I mention the thunderstorms we had all night? Which re-sensitized poor Dora so that now she is flinching and nervous if the wind even picks up. Poor baby. I hope she will desensitize again fairly easily. It took a couple years last time she was really frightened by a storm. Perhaps that experience will speed things up this time?

Anyway, this morning I finished off the last detail work, which actually means the last detail work for this draft, of course. But a few people will now be getting copies associated with request for critiques.

I do have one general question for you all. Please pick one:

A) A slowish first chapter that re-introduces the cast along with handling the Initiating Event of the story is probably the best way to handle things when you have accumulated a huge number of characters.

B) No no no just put a Dramatis Personae section in the back!

C) Other: ______________________________________________________________________

I think the story does get going relatively soon, but I’m not necessarily the best judge. I often like a slower pace in the beginning. This is something I will specifically ask my first readers, since they will actually be seeing the chapter in question. But it would be interesting to see whether there’s a general opinion one way or the other.

Incidentally, it’s not like every character ever introduced plays a large role in this particular book. Working out how to thin the crowd was the hardest part of the initial writing process and then I thinned it some more on the first important revision. But yeah, by this time the world is pretty well populated. That’s probably one reason this draft is 455 pages instead of the 350 I was kind of aiming for.

Still — finished for now! Yay!

This coming weekend: on to the next project that’s waiting plus every. single. dog. deserves to go to the park after being cooped up in the house so much lately.

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9 Comments Finished! With Black Dog #3

  1. Pete Mack

    Ooooh, can’t wait!

    No strong preferences on the intro chapter, though I do like mis en scene starts.

  2. Elaine T

    Yippeee!
    Without seeing the book, no opinion on the first chapter. (sorry.)

    …. Although I guess I don’t mind a slower start.

  3. Hanneke

    I tend to like slow starting books, though not everyone does, so my first reaction was A.
    On the other hand, I’m bad at remembering names, so a list of Dramatis Personae in the back (mentioned in the index/front matter, so I know it’s there before I finish the book) will be very welcome when the cast grows large or the names grow complex (especially if a person is called different names by different people, or somenpeople have similar names with the same first letter).

    It may be a “Gratuitous Epilogue” effect: people who read for the characters and have become invested in them will be intetested in meeting the again, and catching up with them and their lives, before the action starts (or after it’s finished); but for new readers that would be less interesting. So a book that starts off like that might draw fewer new readers to the series.

  4. Rachel

    I do my best to avoid giving characters very similar names, but it has happened a couple times now in this series. Oops. So in This book I tried more to keep characters with similar names separated, rarely letting them appear in the same scenes.

  5. Evelyn Hill

    I definitely like to get off to a running start, but people still read Jane Austen today. And Charlotte Bronte. And Charles Dickens and … well, anyway, you’d be in good company if you chose option A.
    But yes, I’d prefer the list of characters at the back rather than be introduced to people and try to remember their names in case I need to know later on. I’m bad with names in real life.

  6. Diana

    I think I’d prefer Option A, since I do most of my reading via Kindle these days, and I often don’t even realize that there is a Dramatis Personae section until I’ve finished the book, which isn’t much help. :-) Also, flipping between your current position in a Kindle book and the list of characters is a pain.

  7. Rachel

    Diana, I know. I got all the way through The Goblin Emperor before I realized there was a very helpful glossary. And yes, even if I’d realized, it is definitely a pain to flip back and forth, even if you use bookmarks.

    Evelyn, I sympathize because I’m not great with names either. I think I should probably put a Dramatis Personae in the back even if I keep the first chapter as-is. Also, I’ll be sure to include that in the table of contents so there’s a better chance readers will realize it’s there.

    Thank you all for your feedback!

  8. Pete Mack

    A DP often goes at the beginning, organized by House. (You can avoid a glossary if you use Pure, Black Dog, White Witch, Unmagical as houses.)

  9. Rachel

    I know one would ordinarily put a Dramatis Personae at the front. The problem is putting everything at the front means Kindle samples have very little of the actual story in them, which is frustrating for readers. So … at the back.

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