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Error in my latest

darloboy641

Bargain Cunt is a two parter, not as I wrongly stated at the end of the text THE END.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@darloboy641

Bargain Cunt is a two parter, not as I wrongly stated at the end of the text THE END.

That's not uncommon, as we often get new ideas for stories after we've figured there's nothing left to say on a subject. But ... two things, you can always end how you ended the last chapter by resubmitting it, and this is the wrong place to make such announcements, as you're targeting authors rather than readers here. That type of announcement works best in an author's blog, as curious readers will often (though not always) check there, and if the title looks interesting, blog posts will often attract entirely new readers to your stories who wouldn't normally be attracted to them.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

I agree with CW. The posting of an edited chapter should solve part of the problem as long as you didn't toggle a flag saying the story was finished. (I don't know if that flag exists)
Post a notice to you blog as well, some readers do check them.

Crumbly Writer

Even if a story is finished, you can always change an ending however you'd like. What's more, you can create a new Series name, and link the two stories together so readers of one don't miss the other. (Hint: it helps if you make the names similar, so one will lead naturally to the other for those who don't notice the new series announcement.

darloboy641

Thanks for that. I'm about 8 pages in and working towards an ending. It's the first time I've had chapters and also I have quite a list of characters, situations and animals!!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@darloboy641

I'm about 8 pages in and working towards an ending. It's the first time I've had chapters and also I have quite a list of characters, situations and animals!!

Whenever I start running into a long list of characters, I rely on attached character lists, so readers can refresh their memories between chapters. To make it easier to reference, I post it as the first chapter, then when the story completes, I delete it and repost it, moving it from the first listed chapter to the end of the story where it belongs.

Just a hint for anyone who's not used to using such tools.

Replies:   REP  docholladay  3D
REP

@Crumbly Writer

I rely on attached character lists, so readers can refresh their memories between chapters.


I tried reading one of those character lists once or twice. By the time I got to the end of the list, I couldn't recall the characters at the start of the list and the details of all those characters in between were scrambled in my memory.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

I tried reading one of those character lists once or twice. By the time I got to the end of the list, I couldn't recall the characters at the start of the list and the details of all those characters in between were scrambled in my memory.

I often include directions, warning that it's not intended to be read, rather it should be searched for characters you can't recall. Reading it contains unintended spoilers. I also limit the character list to the characters who appear in multiple chapters, and only those in the current book, not those in an entire series. That helps limit the scope, mainly because I tend to limit myself to 20 chapter books (17 - 28 chapters).

docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

Whenever I start running into a long list of characters, I rely on attached character lists, so readers can refresh their memories between chapters. To make it easier to reference, I post it as the first chapter, then when the story completes, I delete it and repost it, moving it from the first listed chapter to the end of the story where it belongs.


I have noticed Uncle Jim uses a similar method. Although he lists characters at the beginning of the chapter they first appear. The major characters are listed that way. Both methods work for different writers and styles however. Like you he is consistent in that style.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

I have noticed Uncle Jim uses a similar method. Although he lists characters at the beginning of the chapter they first appear. The major characters are listed that way. Both methods work for different writers and styles however. Like you he is consistent in that style.

When I start with the character list as the first chapter, I often only list the characters already introduced, but it's such a pain updating it constantly, I sometimes just dump all the names at once, if they're not overwhelming.

The key though, isn't to introduce character names (as that's better accomplished in the story itself) but to provide a way for readers to remember who's who, especially when someone doesn't reappear for a long time.

Replies:   REP  REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

My earlier post was not intended to single you out CW. There are numerous authors who provide their readers with long character lists.

I think I know what you meant, but, "How can you have previously introduced characters in the first chapter of a story, unless it is a serialized story, which you don't seem to write?"

I enjoy Uncle Jim's Magic Ink Universe stories. I have two main problems with his character lists. (1) his lists seem to include only new characters. (2) the character description seems to be presented to describe the characters physical appearance.

By the time I'm a page or two into a chapter, I don't recall the characters' descriptions. In subsequent chapters, I also don't recall the character descriptions provided by prior chapters. For me, those types of character descriptions are totally useless, so I usually just skip over them. Now that I think of it, Uncle Jim presents a character list of the characters in his first chapter. Many of these characters were in prior stories (i.e. stories earlier on his series' timeline), so has anyone noticed if he updates his characters age and appearance from what he initially provided in the story in which the character was first introduced?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

I think I know what you meant, but, "How can you have previously introduced characters in the first chapter of a story, unless it is a serialized story, which you don't seem to write?"

To answer your question (at least in my case) I post the cast list as the first chapter, simply so it always appears before the other chapters and is always easy to find. I'll typically post a couple chapters at once, so 'characters appear at first' is misleading, as that can include a couple chapters. But the main point is, I try to avoid listing characters who haven't yet appeared, or who readers won't need to look up. One trick, though, is listing physical descriptions isn't very useful (as you noted), yet you have to be careful with role description so you don't unintentionally include spoilers.

For short stories (with fewer than twenty characters), I'll typically just list everyone at once, since it's not as difficult locating single characters in the list.

However, list prologues and epilogues, cast lists aren't always intuitive and take a while to master. Oh, I also sort all the names by first name, as that's how readers typically know them.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

I don't put a cast list in every story, but when I think the story has a large enough cast it needs one I put the list in at the start simply because it's no good to most readers if posted at the end, and I upload every story at once with delayed display dates set in the system.

A cast list is a convenience tool for readers, if they wish to abuse it, they can, if they use it right it helps them with the story, but I leave the choice of using it or how they use it up to the reader.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

previously introduced characters in the first chapter


I was focusing on how you could have previously introduced characters before you posted the first chapter.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

I was focusing on how you could have previously introduced characters before you posted the first chapter.

That's what I was explaining, I don't. Instead, I'll post the character list first, so the first or second chapter's characters will be included. I only list characters in a book when they're reintroduced into the story, or when they're referenced (so readers can go back and remember who the hell they were).

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


When I start with the character list as the first chapter, I often only list the characters already introduced, but it's such a pain updating it constantly, I sometimes just dump all the names at once, if they're not overwhelming.


That was your original statement. I understand you post the entire character list, but it isn't what you wrote in the above.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

That was your original statement. I understand you post the entire character list, but it isn't what you wrote in the above.

I understand, but those were two separate statements (I should have included a period, since it's not referring to the initial posting).

Here are my specific steps (you pedantic ass):
1) I post the character list as the first chapter. IF the story has fewer than 20 characters, I'll post the entire thing. If it has more, then I'll initially post the characters in the first couple chapters.

2) Thereafter I only post updates after the chapter they appear in, so the list won't contain spoilers.

3) When the entire story has been posted, I'll delete the entire character list, wait a day (so the admins don't replace the current character list) and then resubmit the full character list so it gets posted at the end of the story, where it belongs.

There, is that clear enough for you? Geez!

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, I think so, but give me a few hours to think about it.

I just couldn't help ragging on you about it.:)

3D

@Crumbly Writer

I don't read the list of characters in any story. A number of reasons for this:
- other than being boring as bat-shit to read and memorise out of context, it indicates to me that the author's skills at story telling are deficient in characterisation, OR, the author has picked up this habit from other authors. It should never be necessary.
- Having lots of major or minor characters is a sign of bad storytelling unless the story is a very long story. Some successful published books have got away with it, but the norm is keep it simple. If you are going to include lots of characters, make sure they are 'real'. You have an image in your brain of the character; your reader doesn't. You need to include at least one or two characteristics, be they physical, emotional, action etc for your readers to identify them in their minds.
- often a list of characters will include height, weight, hair and eye colour, breast/bra-cup size ... this last spec. really makes me not want to read any further. Some stories will even give all the dick sizes in inches. Why not a list of vaginal sizes? It is ridiculous and sexist. So many taboos are broken in SOL stories, and yet we are still sexist. I gues we are all human, and a result of our social upbringing. AND most of the readers are male?

Dominions Son

@3D

Some stories will even give all the dick sizes in inches. Why not a list of vaginal sizes?


Because it's internal and not readily seen even on a nude character. All the external attributes can help the reader to see the characters as the author envisioned them.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@3D


I don't read the list of characters in any story. A number of reasons for this:

- other than being boring as bat-shit to read and memorise out of context, it indicates to me that the author's skills at story telling are deficient in characterisation, OR, the author has picked up this habit from other authors. It should never be necessary.


I agree, they shouldn't be necessary, and they aren't—unless you read a single chapter a week, or a multi-book series keeps referencing people from previous books you haven't read about in some time.

No author provides cast lists as reading material, instead they're a reference source in case you forget who someone is. In that case, you don't read the cast list, instead you scan through the list of names (mine are always listed by first name, so they're easier to find) until you find the one you didn't remember, and it should provide enough context that you'll either recall them from earlier, or you'll at least understand who they're supposed to be. But anyone who elects to read an entire cast list is just plain nuts. Just like a glossary or a dictionary, it makes for incredibly dull reading.

For my cast lists, rather than describing what they look like, I'll describe either their role (ex: their "job") or their relationship to the other character's (ex: "the protagonist's mother").

Also, there's an unwritten rule that you simply don't bother with them unless you have a certain number of characters. I can't remember what that limit is offhand, but it's certainly over twenty!

It always amazes me when readers refuse to read prologues or integral sex scenes, but then insist on reading reference material like glossaries and cast lists. That's NOT what they're there for. Not only are they dry, but they'll often contain spoilers (ex: if they list someone as the protagonist's surgeon, you know something serious is going to happen to him, spoiling the buildup to that scene.

They're included for a very specific purpose, not as a 'part of the story', and there are specific guidelines for when to include them, when not to, and what to include and exclude from them. Anyone who can't be bothered learning these guidelines has no call to include them in their stories.

P.S. I generally include a disclaimer at the top of my cast list outlining the fact that it's not for reading, and suggesting readers simply use it to scan for anyone they can't recall. I'm not sure it helps cases like yours, where you feel obligated to read it, but at least I try to head you off at the pass before you waste your time.

@DS

Why not a list of vaginal sizes?

Because it's internal and not readily seen even on a nude character. All the external attributes can help the reader to see the characters as the author envisioned them.


*** Flame On ***

Except, dick size give you no idea of who a specific character is or what they bring to the story. If you only remember a character for her bra size, then there's really little reason to include her in a story—it implies the author doesn't view them as actual human beings, merely a collection of assorted bodily parts. Why would anyone care about such a character. That's why experienced author focus on sensory information or personality quirks, rather than minor details which don't reflect the character's personality.

If an author lists bra and dick sizes—they haven't yet learned how to construct a story—and it's a warning to look elsewhere for reading material.

Even in stroke stories, readers want to care about the characters, regardless of how HUGE they are.

*** End of Rant ***

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Except, dick size give you no idea of who a specific character is or what they bring to the story. If you only remember a character for her bra size, then there's really little reason to include her in a story—it implies the author doesn't view them as actual human beings, merely a collection of assorted bodily parts.


Just because physical appearance isn't all there is to who a character is, that doesn't make it irrelevant to who the character is or their place in the story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Just because physical appearance isn't all there is to who a character is, that doesn't make it irrelevant to who the character is or their place in the story.

No, I wasn't saying that a man's 10" cock isn't important to a story (after all, who the fuck would want to be jack-hammered by such a thing banging away at your cervix?), what I'm saying is, listing that as their only relevant information in a character list means the character has never been developed beyond the fact they have a single body feature, and they're a completely undeveloped character. Otherwise, surely there would be something more informative than a single abstract measurement.

Again, how you portray a character in a character list reflects how you think of a character as an author, so you want to consider how you identify someone before you create your character list, rather than just listing the first thing that comes to your mind when hastily throwing one together.

That's why I take such measurements in a cast list as a reflection on the authors' skill-level, overall concern with quality, and their concern for their characters! I'd walk away from a story I was already enjoying if I was that in the character list midway through the story!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

after all, who the fuck would want to be jack-hammered by such a thing banging away at your cervix?


Not many, and certainly no virgins, which is why it could be very important to a well done story.

Again, how you portray a character in a character list reflects how you think of a character as an author


I agree with you. I would also probably walk away if that's all there was to the descriptions in the cast list.

However, as much as you would walk away from any story with precise number centric descriptions in a cast list.

I would probably walk away from anything claiming to be an erotic/sex story that never provides any kind of physical description.

Bondi Beach

@3D

I don't read the list of characters in any story. A number of reasons for this:
- other than being boring as bat-shit to read and memorise out of context, it indicates to me that the author's skills at story telling are deficient in characterisation, OR, the author has picked up this habit from other authors. It should never be necessary.


Second this. And the rest of the post. All the talk about reference lists doesn't persuade me, nor the need for physical description in a character list. For physical description, SOL thoughtfully provides some codes, BTW.

The list is a weak shortcut, although I might be amused, a little, with descriptions like "Tall, dark, and handsome," or "Stacked like a brick you-know-what" without the "you-know-what" euphemism. OTOH, probably not.

Or you could have "Tall, dark, and handsome, and afraid of the dark," or "Hung like a horse but prefers sheep," perhaps. That might be interesting. Otherwise, skip it.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I would probably walk away from anything claiming to be an erotic/sex story that never provides any kind of physical description.


I include descriptions—as much as others authors here prefer not to—but as pointed out, I don't include them in the cast list, and I prefer comparative sizes rather than exact, precise and often incorrect tape measure measurements. 'D

Listing someone's exact breast size (ex: "52" GG") when someone meets someone for the first time (not that you've ever done it, though I've seen it done by others) is messy, as there's generally no way the character would ever have that information readily available to them. That's why I generally stay away from precise measurements, but we're talking about cast lists, and useless descriptions in cast lists.

While describing someone who's most-memorable feature is a 12-inch cock might be relevant to the story, it's generally non-informative in a cast-list and potentially offers spoilers (say if someone reads it before they reach the chapter he appears it, whereas saying "A pizza delivery man" doesn't).

Again, I was responding to a specific complaint about what someone else found wrong in someone else's cast list, not information found in the narrative.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

Second this. And the rest of the post. All the talk about reference lists doesn't persuade me, nor the need for physical description in a character list. For physical description, SOL thoughtfully provides some codes, BTW.

Which is why you generally don't include character lists unless the number of characters, and the time delay between chapters, warrants it. Even then, since most readers will read a completed story in only a few sessions, even then it's largely optional.

Most authors also don't include forward, prefaces, previews, epilogue, glossaries or summaries of previous books, however, these are all tools available for authors to pick and choose under the proper settings. While many are frowned on within specific genres, others are more essential in more complicated world building sci-fi or historical novels, where readers are more comfortable using them than the typical reader is.

I'm not dictating that every author must include a cast list, just providing an explanation of why I do, and the general guidelines I follow to prevent the types of situations he's observed—which I agree are highly problematic.

Hell, in one six-volume series of mine, I had over one-hundred major and minor repeating characters. They didn't all appear in any single cast list, but still, with that many, it's often essential to provide guidance for someone providing updates in the epilogue about a character not seen since the 1st or 3rd chapter. Readers are interested in characters they have a fondness for, even if the names don't immediately ring a bell.

Also, because that one book became so overwhelming, I've never attempted to duplicate the sheer reach of that story. That was my magnum opus, there's little need for that much detail in the typical story.

Now, if you really want to get me started, ask me about including prologues and I'll give you a real lecture, learned the hard way through experience! 'D

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

and I prefer comparative sizes rather than exact, precise and often incorrect tape measure measurements. 'D


Personally, I tend towards a mix of comparative sizes and "guesstimates" by the primary character in a particular scene.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Part of my preferences (aside from my personal Style guidelines) are based on my fondness for well-toned athletic bodies, rather than the more extreme body types (i.e. thin, relatively flat chested and 'average' sizes all around, so there's little need to rant about how HUGE someone is). Such reliance on stock character types strikes me as overly simplistic. I prefer concentrating on personality types over stock physical specimen types.

I'm the same way with the BBM trope. If you want to deal honestly with race relations, I'm eager to read the story. However, if you're merely waving stereotypes to paint racial fears, I'm uninterested. I get enough of that on the news every day in reports from Washington. Creating cardboard cutouts is much easier than creating complex, real fictional characters.

Young women can be intimidated enough by sex without having to trot out guys hung like horses. If you're going for Mary Sue characters, then knock your socks off (or "her" panties off, as the case may be).

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

I would probably walk away from anything claiming to be an erotic/sex story that never provides any kind of physical description.


I believe it's possible to write a very erotic story with no physical descriptions of the participants. Making the reader identify with one of the characters is probably the crucial element.

Sex stories are different - explicitness rules.

AJ

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

are based on my fondness for well-toned athletic bodies, rather than the more extreme body types


My own preferences tend to women with a bit more meat on the bones, voluptuous without being pear shaped.

Ashley Graham for example https://www.si.com/swimsuit/model/ashley-graham/2016/photos#1

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

The physical dimensions of a character (e.g., breast size and shape, dick length and circumference, height, dimensions, etc.) are probably very important in a cast list if the story is a stroke story. In stories where the plot is the main focus, a description of the character's role in the plot is probably more important than their looks and sexual attributes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

The physical dimensions of a character (e.g., breast size and shape, dick length and circumference, height, dimensions, etc.) are probably very important in a cast list if the story is a stroke story. In stories where the plot is the main focus, a description of the character's role in the plot is probably more important than their looks and sexual attributes.

Even if you include "Pizza dude with huge cock", it infinitely more informative than "man with 12 inch penis". This isn't about genre, it's about taking pride in your work, and letting the work speak for itself. If there's nothing more to your characters than an 8" cock or a 38" bust size, then why should I bother to read about them? I can guess virtually everything they're going to do in the story—after all, how many variations of the ol' "in-out" can you include?

I see such a lazy attitude in a simple cast list few will even glance at on a par with an author who can't be bothered proof-reading their story bio. If the author doesn't care about their own story, then I sure as hell don't!

In any market, your personal brand is worth a LOT more than any individual product. Once you let readers know that your personal 'brand' (i.e. the quality of your writing and your pride in it) isn't worth shit to you, then you've lost me as a reader forever.

(Not you, REP and D.S.), we're talking the unidentified author the one person originally bitched about when they complained about their cast of characters.

P.S. If I seem especially bitchy, it's because I went to bat for a certain author, and he threw both me and his editors to the wolves, not even allowing any of us to explain ourselves. I'm still a bit pissed at the jerk!

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

My own preferences tend to women with a bit more meat on the bones, voluptuous without being pear shaped.

I agree. I prefer 'actual humans', whatever their shape, rather than the 'artificial' silicone and steroid infused freak shows.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

If the author doesn't care about their own story, then I sure as hell don't!


I agree and a cast list that is nothing more than names and physical measurements would clearly indicate that the author doesn't care.

However, would a cast list that includes the physical measurements in addition to other information be that bad?

How about:

Darnel, a somewhat lazy Rastafarian pizza delivery guy with a thing for white women. 6'6" 12" cock.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  REP
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

How about:

Darnel, a somewhat lazy Rastafarian pizza delivery guy with a thing for white women. 6'6" 12" cock.

That clears most of my objections, though I still prefer using comparative terms, rather than precise measurements. Perhaps "a somewhat lazy Rastafarian pizza delivery guy with a thing for white women and a large salami in his pants." 'D

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

though I still prefer using comparative terms


Again, I've never done a cast list, but I tend to mix-up comparative terms and numeric measurement that are presented as estimates by another character. I've established what each character's measurements should be, and when I use the numeric "estimates" I try to make sure that they are a little off.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

On the subject of a Cast List I don't do them for short stories, but do include them if the story has an overly large cast, as often happens in the longer stories. While writing I usually have a list of characters as a memory aid of who is what in regards to who they are, and I simply include that in the final story.

The first I ever did is in Ed's New Life and it includes entries like:

Lisa:- Female, late twenties, very tall, statuesque build, large breasts, red hair, pretty. Smart, a good sense of humour, commanding personality. Cop. Interests: domination, BDSM, and girls. Cousin of Lucie.

While most are now like the one in Finding Home like this:

Taiki Nagumi - the current head of Nagumi Enterprises, a major Japanese corporation, and a friend of Al's.

I don't use them for novels or shorter, but over long stories about double novel length or more they're useful.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Not you, REP and D.S.


I never use cast lists in my stories, so I never considered your comments about poor usage of them to apply to me.

If the character hasn't been seen for a number of chapters, I prefer a short comment, dialog or narrative, to remind readers of the characters prior involvement in the story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Dominions Son

However, would a cast list that includes the physical measurements in addition to other information be that bad?

How about:

Darnel, a somewhat lazy Rastafarian pizza delivery guy with a thing for white women. 6'6" 12" cock.


It would if all he were doing was delivering a pizza or if his involvement had nothing to do with the characteristics defined.

Replies:   sejintenej
REP
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


While writing I usually have a list of characters as a memory aid of who is what in regards to who they are


I use a similar list for my reference.

My character lists include every person mentioned by name in a story with a brief description of their involvement and anything worth noting. My longest list has 142 people to include waiters, secretaries of key characters, character's children mentioned in a scene, etc. I may pull these people back into a future scene, such as the MC calling a key character several time and first talking with a secretary.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Taiki Nagumi - the current head of Nagumi Enterprises, a major Japanese corporation, and a friend of Al's.

That's a classic example of how to characterize someone. It doesn't belittle the character, while accentuating their strengths in a brief summary.

Your discretion in when to use them is sensible too.

Note: Being honest, I have an ulterior motive in including them, as when I move them after the story is done, it allows me to erase all of the false 'look-ahead' page reads, getting a better feel for how many people are actually reading my stories.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I've established what each character's measurements should be, and when I use the numeric "estimates" I try to make sure that they are a little off.

That's a decent start. When I first ran up against this, I interjected the character's doubts about the value of such statistics—even as they used them. As more time has passed and my experience have grown, I've gradually substituted less extreme circumstances (i.e. not everyone is HUMONGOUS) and the differences are compared to easily relatable object (i.e. either "as small as a lemon" or "as big as cantaloupes"—most people are too polite to refer to a woman as being a "watermelon", no matter what she looks like).

Leave the extremes to the situations—characterized by people's reactions—instead of physical dimensions. It won't matter how many "inches" someone is if someone hesitates when touching it—readers get the impression just how intimidating it is without being told.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@REP

If the character hasn't been seen for a number of chapters, I prefer a short comment, dialog or narrative, to remind readers of the characters prior involvement in the story.

That's the most natural technique. However, my characters sometimes prefer to talk about the changes in people over time (as a result of what happened in the story), rather than reminiscing on who they used to be. In some cases it fits, in others it doesn't.

But it's these descriptions which are useful: how to avoid needing cast lists and the best ways to describe people, rather than arguing over how 'stupid' cast lists are.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@REP

My character lists include every person mentioned by name in a story with a brief description of their involvement and anything worth noting. My longest list has 142 people to include waiters, secretaries of key characters, character's children mentioned in a scene, etc. I may pull these people back into a future scene, such as the MC calling a key character several time and first talking with a secretary.

A safe guideline for character lists: never list anyone who doesn't appear in multiple, non-sequential chapters, don't include them (character lists) if you've got less than a full typewritten page (single-spaced lines) of names, and focus on what's mores consequential about each character—even if it's not their main role in a particular scene—as treating characters helps to make them real for you the author. If you can't respect your minor characters, granting them distinct personalities, then you need to rethink those characters.

I lost the quote, but there's a great line about there being no "characters" in novels, there are only "real people", whether they ever existed in real life or not. If the characters don't feel real you're cheating your readers. Treat every character, however minor, as if they think the entire story is about them! That way, you avoid creating cardboard cutout characters lacking personality.

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

True although the cast list I referenced covers about 18 months of the MC's life.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've gradually substituted less extreme circumstances


I try to include some variety in body types. I don't think however, that that is relevant to how physical descriptions are handled.

The "estimates" I use are mostly for height, I might do bust measurement estimate, but at this point I doubt I would do an "estimate" of cup size.

Cup size is too complicated. The actual breast volume of a C cup on a larger woman can actually be larger than a D or DD on a smaller/thinner woman.

How any woman manages to get a proper fit I have no idea.

Bondi Beach

@Dominions Son

How any woman manages to get a proper fit I have no idea.


Expert help from a full-service department store (e.g., Nordstrom's) or a specialty shop, or a nice little old Jewish lady who'd been doing it for 60 years or so (can't remember name, but she was the go-to bra fitter in NYC according to a piece in the NYT a number of years ago).

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

How any woman manages to get a proper fit I have no idea.

They don't. The 'official' estimates is that 70% of women wear the wrong size bra—what's more, their breasts vary widely from day to day due to a variety of causes—so assuming that some random guy on the street can correctly identify the size of a women he doesn't know is fairly absurd. We like to think we can, but realistically, it's unlikely.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

Expert help from a full-service department store (e.g., Nordstrom's) or a specialty shop, or a nice little old Jewish lady who'd been doing it for 60 years or so (can't remember name, but she was the go-to bra fitter in NYC according to a piece in the NYT a number of years ago).

When I was there (NYC) the original Macy's department store in Manhattan was the place to go. They were also the place to go to get any watch fixed, adjusted or reset. However, you're unlikely to get that level of support in any other Macy's outlet.

darloboy641

A lively discussion thanks.

I did start a character list in a recent tale and then deleted it, reverting to memory as I always have done, but old age makes remembering my name somewhat difficult.

I am a detail man, and usually include mature/elderly females as that's my thing.

Bras and cups are a major problem to write about admittedly, but I try to include them although starting not to and describing with other words

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@darloboy641

A lively discussion thanks.

I did start a character list in a recent tale and then deleted it, reverting to memory as I always have done, but old age makes remembering my name somewhat difficult.

Most of us use character lists internally, even when we don't post them with our stories, as we're likely to substitute character names from our other stories if we don't. There's nothing worse than switching a main characters name three times in the same chapter to drive readers to distraction. However, that's no reason to force your internal guide on readers—unless there's a specific reason for including it.

The same is true of timelines. They're often necessary to keep the events in the story consistent across chapters, but we rarely post them with the story.

Character lists, like prologues and prefaces, have their use, but they're very specific and not applicable to other uses. You'd never add a prologue to a short story, just as you wouldn't need a cast list for one. However, if you decide you do require one, it's good to know how to properly construct one, so you don't trip over the same issues everyone else does.

Replies:   REP
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


so assuming that some random guy on the street can correctly identify the size of a women he doesn't know is fairly absurd.


I agree, that is absurd. However:

We like to think we can


Which means it's entirely realistic for a male character in a story to try to do it. The trick to doing it right is not making him too accurate at doing it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Which means it's entirely realistic for a male character in a story to try to do it. The trick to doing it right is not making him too accurate at doing it.

Agreed. As long as it's contained in dialogue, reflecting the character's personal views of the people involved, it's fine. However, in the narrative used to describe the characters' appearance, it's problematic at best. In a reference document, the problems get exaggerated because it's taken entirely out of context (seen as reflecting the author's attitude, rather than helping to identify specific characters). It gives the impression that the character is nothing more than a stick figure without any redeeming features. Making characters more sympathetic, even the bad guys, helps offset those tendencies.

And while I'm fine with it as dialogue, I personally prefer having someone else point out the inconsistencies, just so readers are aware of the problems with relying on such information, which then allows everyone to ignore the issue once it's been acknowledged as a potential problem.

In other words, you don't need to avoid the usage, but it helps if it's more nuanced, so it doesn't appear quite as obtuse (i.e. reflecting the author's own prejudices).

REP

@Crumbly Writer

The same is true of timelines. They're often necessary to keep the events in the story consistent across chapters, but we rarely post them with the story.

Good observation. The only instances that I can recall seeing a timeline posted with a story is when the author has written multiple books and wants to tell the reader where the story fits in with the other stories.

Since a few of my stories span long periods of time, 20+ years, I have started a Scene Timeline to keep track of when the various scenes fit into my MC's life.

Replies:   sejintenej  Bondi Beach
REP

I would not be surprised to find that what we actually do to arrive at bra cup size is to assess the size and shape of a woman's breasts. We then select a size (e.g., None, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large). Once we have the size, we translate that to the bra cup size we think fits the size and shape category.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

I would not be surprised to find that what we actually do to arrive at bra cup size is to assess the size and shape of a woman's breasts. We then select a size (e.g., None, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large). Once we have the size, we translate that to the bra cup size we think fits the size and shape category.

Or, we stick with the non-specific but more meaningful (to the characters and the readers) descriptions such as "Yowsa! Check out the rack on her. Is she spectacular or what? I'd climb those mountains in a second, though it might take some time to reach the peak."

The idea is to catch the character's attitude, and describe the initial attractions, which bra cup sizes aren't particularly good at capturing. Instead, allow your mind to be more creative, instead of relying on the traditional short cuts.

"Man, she's build like a brick shithouse!" (For our Australian readers, that means she's well-build and a quality 'piece of ass'). "Just take a look at those cantaloupes. I'd love to squeeze those peaches until the juice runs out all over my fingers."

There's absolutely no reason to limit yourself to established tropes—especially since they're not particularly effective. Instead, extend yourself and try to capture the same idea in a new and creative way. Even if you stumble and fall, at least you made the effort, and get your readers to think differently about it while marking yourself an a less-trite author.

More than anything else, describing bra sizes is an incredibly boring way of describing something which should captivate the imagination. Why package something that extraordinary in a used paper bag when you can dress it up in an exotic designer outfit that reveals all the exciting bits.

I just don't understand this insistence that there's any role for boring, useless descriptions in creative fiction—even when that creative fiction is employed in writing pornographic stroke material. There's no reason why your porn can't be the same high quality as your other writings.

If you limit your writing because readers don't expect any more, then you're cheating your readers. It's like WalMart refusing to carry anything containing quality material or design. Yes, it may be cheap, but why limit your brand to crap? Why not throw in the occasional exciting surprise that keeps buyers coming back for more?

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I just don't understand this insistence that there's any role for boring, useless descriptions in creative fiction


I have a couple of scenes where mentioning bra size would make sense. Specifically, scenes where a female character is being professionally measured for custom outfits. That's about the only situation I would use bra size (particularly cup size) in.

As to other descriptive measurements, used sparingly I just don't agree that they are either boring or useless.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I have a couple of scenes where mentioning bra size would make sense. Specifically, scenes where a female character is being professionally measured for custom outfits. That's about the only situation I would use bra size (particularly cup size) in.

As to other descriptive measurements, used sparingly I just don't agree that they are either boring or useless.

As I said, context makes all the difference. Using bra sizes fits when you restrict it to dialogue, or in your case, fitting rooms, but doesn't fly very far when forced into first-meeting descriptions or character list descriptions.

All I'm saying is to resist the impulse to always go with 'what's always been done', and choose the more creative route when given the chance. It will set your work apart, rather than merely adding to the huge pile of 'more of the same'.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Crumbly Writer

All I'm saying is to resist the impulse to always go with 'what's always been done', and choose the more creative route when given the chance. It will set your work apart, rather than merely adding to the huge pile of 'more of the same'.

All in all, at the end of the day, this topic has more than run it's course. I really doubt the problem of using cup sizes in SOL stories is as rampant as we're making it out to be.

One reader, in response to my comments on selecting when to include characters lists said 'Bah! I saw this one character list where the only description was penis size', and then the conversation ran away from there, with me continually trying to refine and reexplain my initial objection to that one outlier incident.

If those descriptions aren't a problem for you, then don't fret over it. However, if that's you're only description in your entire story, then you may want to consider alternatives.

'Nuff said. Let's find something more productive to argue over.

sejintenej

@REP

Dominions Son

How about:
Darnel, a somewhat lazy Rastafarian pizza delivery guy with a thing for white women. 6'6" 12" cock.

It would if all he were doing was delivering a pizza or if his involvement had nothing to do with the characteristics defined.

Even so the extremity of his appendage could be better included when the woman turns him down on grounds of size. The height perhaps OK because it is evidently unusual (unless he plays basketball in which case that occupation could be included).

EB's examples showing relationships with others and their behaviour trends are far more useful.

Replies:   REP
sejintenej

@REP

Good observation. The only instances that I can recall seeing a timeline posted with a story is when the author has written multiple books and wants to tell the reader where the story fits in with the other stories.

Just been reading G Younger's Junior Year which is like a diary with dates. That is wasted on me; I never remember the date in the day's heading and it doesn't seem to help the story

Bondi Beach

@REP

Good observation. The only instances that I can recall seeing a timeline posted with a story is when the author has written multiple books and wants to tell the reader where the story fits in with the other stories.


One instance is Heinlein's "Future History" wall chart reproduced as front matter in many of his novels. He used it to keep his technology, characters, politics, and plots straight.

bb

Replies:   REP
REP

@Crumbly Writer

it might take some time to reach the peak."


Definitely a 48EEE.

Since I find the physical descriptions of a character in a cast list useless, I can't disagree with what you said. I prefer visualizing a character who fits the description in the story. When I first started reading the Magic Ink series, I was overwhelmed by the details of 4+ characters that appeared at the start of a chapter and nothing to relate to descriptive details. By the time I got to the story's content, all of those details had merged into a mish-mash. After the first few times of that happening, I just skipped the cast list and used my imagination.

REP

@sejintenej

However, would a cast list that includes the physical measurements in addition to other information be that bad?


You apparently missed that my post was my answer to DS's question, which preceded his Darnel example:

However, would a cast list that includes the physical measurements in addition to other information be that bad?


1. Why add a character to a cast list if they are nothing more than a bit player who delivers the pizza and is never heard from again? With such a character his dick size is of no importance, unless it is waving in the breeze while he delivers the pizza.

2. Why provide the physical description of cock or breast size for a character who does not have a significant role in the story? They may only appear in one scene.

Replies:   Dominions Son
REP

@Bondi Beach

Now that is a good use for a timeline.

Sounds a lot like what I am trying to achieve for my multipart stories. I started the effort when I discovered that I had written slightly different versions of the same scene in two widely spaced chapters.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Dominions Son
Updated:

@REP


Why provide the physical description of cock or breast size for a character who does not have a significant role in the story? They may only appear in one scene.


1. Why list bit players at all? For a random pizza guy who just appears once to deliver a pizza, why even give him a name.

I was assuming that the cast list would be limited to characters with some significance.

2. Even if the character is only in one scene, if that scene is a sex scene, to me, physical description matters.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

For a random pizza guy who just appears once to deliver a pizza, why even give him a name.


This came up at one of my writers' group meetings recently. A famous (so famous I can't remember the name) writer's writing guidelines say that throwaway characters shouldn't be given names.

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


that throwaway characters shouldn't be given names.


When I go to a restaurant and my server introduces themselves, I try to remember their name. I try to use their name when speaking to them. I consider that common curtsey.

When I write a scene with a throwaway character that is providing service to my MC, I consider it curtsey for the MC to address that throwaway character by name. I give most of my throwaway characters a name, usually just a first name which is what appears on nametags.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@REP

In my local 'local supermarket', they have a limited number of name badges. So a cashier might be wearing the name 'Dawn' one day, with someone completely different wearing it later in the week. A caucasian cashier might end up with a name badge saying 'Narinder'. :)

AJ

Replies:   REP  Bondi Beach
REP

@awnlee jawking

I will address them by the label they display. :)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@REP

I will address them by the label they display. :)


I wouldn't dare. Some of the East European, Middle Eastern and Pakistani names look unpronounceable.

AJ

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

In my local 'local supermarket', they have a limited number of name badges. So a cashier might be wearing the name 'Dawn' one day, with someone completely different wearing it later in the week. A caucasian cashier might end up with a name badge saying 'Narinder'. :)


At the nail spa where my wife and I go the owner and staff are all Vietnamese. Somehow I doubt "Jenny N," "Emily," "Mimi," and "Rosie," to name only four, are the names they were born with.

OTOH, unlike your supermarket so far they all wear the same name tags every time we see them.

bb

Replies:   REP  Capt. Zapp
Bondi Beach

@REP

Sounds a lot like what I am trying to achieve for my multipart stories. I started the effort when I discovered that I had written slightly different versions of the same scene in two widely spaced chapters.


I will admit to forgetting the names of main characters during NaNoWriMo sprints and using "X" or "Y" as placeholders. Not to mention changing the name of the main character halfway through the draft.

bb

Replies:   REP
REP

@Bondi Beach

Not to mention changing the name of the main character halfway through the draft.


So you've done that also. I slapped my fingers for that one.

REP

@Bondi Beach

are the names they were born with.


True, but if that is what they wish to be called, I'll comply.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Capt. Zapp

@Bondi Beach

Somehow I doubt "Jenny N," "Emily," "Mimi," and "Rosie," to name only four, are the names they were born with.


Many people with 'foreign' names choose to use an 'americanized' name just to make it easier to interact with Americans. Many feel it is easier to use an English 'nickname' than to hear people butcher their real name.

Replies:   sejintenej  Bondi Beach
richardshagrin

I sometimes go to a grocery store that has a job title as well as a first name. The checkout clerks are called checkers. When I asked one if he hoped to be promoted to a chess piece he didn't understand the question. It was a lot funnier in my head.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

The checkout clerks are called checkers. When I asked one if he hoped to be promoted to a chess piece he didn't understand the question.


Was he over weight?

StarFleet Carl

@richardshagrin

The checkout clerks are called checkers.


Actually, I'd ask if they're driving people home later.

sejintenej

@Capt. Zapp


Many people with 'foreign' names choose to use an 'americanized' name just to make it easier to interact with Americans. Many feel it is easier to use an English 'nickname' than to hear people butcher their real name.

It can be more than that. A pure-blooded Chinese school friend of my wife and her brothers all use western names, even on their passports. Their mother never spoke English though they went to English speaking schools and, although they have Chinese names, the friend had to learn Chinese when she was in her forties when her husband was posted to Shanghai (yes, she couldn't talk freely to her mother).

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Capt. Zapp


Many people with 'foreign' names choose to use an 'americanized' name just to make it easier to interact with Americans. Many feel it is easier to use an English 'nickname' than to hear people butcher their real name.


In Redemption I borrowed the first name of a physician who shall otherwise remain unidentified. As in the novel, the real person goes by "Patty," but her formal name is Pei-Chang.

I figure it's always a good choice to go with the name the person uses---and the way he or she pronounces it---unless and until there's good reason to change.

You could probably make a good story around what the "good reason" might be.

bb

Bondi Beach

@REP

True, but if that is what they wish to be called, I'll comply.


Exactly.

bb

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Wait until political correctness reaches you. Then they'll be called 'colleagues' or 'associates' or 'members'. Pretentious titles are less expensive than decent pay :(

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej
richardshagrin

I suspect "Member" is not a good name. If you get fired they dis-member you.

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

In many companies in my business even plebs were called associate directors just so that they could get in the doors of target companies. They had minimal (if any) authority

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