Questions for Readers

This post is a poll of sorts, and I really would love your feedback! (It’s only three questions, and you don’t have to answer them all, so don’t panic). These are few things that I’ve been mulling over lately as I’ve been working on my fantasy stories, and I’d really like to know what other people think about these things. My questions are directed mainly at readers of fantasy and related genres. I welcome feedback from readers (and writers!) of any genre, but fans of fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal would probably understand these questions best.

So, here we go:

Do you prefer one-shots, duology/trilogy, or series?

I’m not trying to find the “best” or even the most currently “marketable” length – I’m just genuinely curious what other people are reading. And I’m honestly not sure which one is my favorite. So what’s your preference?

Do you like to have foreign languages translated in the text, or just have it left up to the reader to figure out words from the context?

This isn’t really about conlangs (constructed languages, like Elvish or Klingon), although that could be a subject for a blog post all on its own. When a character is speaking in another language (one different from the point of view character’s primary language) I’ve seen several different methods used:

The writer puts the character’s dialogue in brackets instead of quotes – [I bring you my sword], said Vlen – to indicate the language change. Or—

The writer simply states the language switch: “I bring you my sword,” said Vlen in Elvish. Or—

The writer has constructed at least the basics of the language, and uses it, with or without a translation as part of the narrative: “Mdash nii hwena,” said Vlen. I bring you my sword.

Have you read books – or written books – using one of these methods? Or a different method? Do you have a favorite? What method of inserting other languages seems the most awkward or interrupts the flow of the story?

Do you love or hate a book with a glossary or appendix?

Many fantasy books have landscape maps or genealogical maps, often at the beginning of a book. But what about other stuff that might come at the end of a book, like a glossary of conlang terms, a pronunciation guide, or an appendix explaining a cultural history or technological specs? Do glossaries and appendices get you excited about learning “behind the scenes” stuff about the world of the book, or do you get bogged down because it feels like a textbook?


Thanks! I truly want to know what others think about these storytelling elements. I look forward to reading everyone’s answers!


6 thoughts on “Questions for Readers

  1. 1) I prefer trilogies or series. Once I get to know the character, I want to know him better and see him suffer more defeats and win more victories.
    2) In my writing, I generally translate all of the languages into modern english. I don’t have the skill needed to write convincing dialogue in a foreign language.
    I had never heard of putting brackets around a quote that is in another language. I generally skip over foreign words in fantasy books because they are a chore to pronounce in my head.
    3) I love glossaries and appendixes. It does give me the feel that I am going behind the scenes. I want to know everything that I can about the world of a good book.
    The one thing that I don’t like though, is a list of characters and what role they play in the plot. This is generally only used in series, but it gives away important information and removes surprises later in the book.


  2. Reblogged this on The Avinel and commented:
    A blog that I am subscribed to posted this list of three questions about the fantasy genre. I commented on it. You should check it out.


  3. Great questions! My answers are…

    1. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of one shots. I haven’t gotten into a single modern trilogy/series as an adult (that I can remember at least). That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t, of course, but in general, I’m drawn more to stand alone novels.

    2. Hard call – I’d say that if the text is in the Latin alphabet (and thus English speakers can better detect what they’re reading, even if they don’t speak that other language), leave it as is, unless it’s large passages of text or super integral to the story.

    3. I absolutely love it!!!

    Thank you for asking for our impute here. Please feel free to keep your questions coming – these were a lot of fun.

    ♥ Jessica


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