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Scheduled Posts for Chapter Updates?

Crumbly Writer

Is there any reason why we (authors) couldn't post a chapter update on a specific date? While that might not seem necessary, I for one like to update my character list with each chapter, so they don't include any potential spoilers. Thus, if I schedule 8 weeks of posts, I've got to follow each scheduled post with an additional 'live' post to update the already published unfinished cast list.

I'm not sure how many authors even offer cast lists, or how many update them vs. how many just dump the entire thing at once, but it sure would help me a lot!

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

I for one like to update my character list with each chapter, so they don't include any potential spoilers.

What about new readers who start with your story sometime later and read your updated cast list?

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I don't see why you can't change the date the same way you do to put a forward date for a chapter itself. But I've not tried to do that. If you can't just ask Lazeez if he'll consider making a change to allow it.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

Nobody has ever asked for deferred reposts before. I'll look into it and see if it's easy to implement, I will.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Thanks, Lazeez. I'm not sure how widely it'll be used, but it will certainly simplify my life.

Replies:   Vlad_Inhaler
Vlad_Inhaler

@Crumbly Writer

I don't know if ShadowWriter used deferred posting for Hatchery Road but that would certainly have been a candidate.

awnlee jawking

MysteryWriter has an updated cast list at the start of each chapter and since it's quite short it's little trouble to skip over.

AJ

Replies:   Zom  John Demille
Zom

@awnlee jawking

updated cast list at the start of each chapter

Because I can't see one immediately, I have to ask, what is the value of a cast list to a reader?

PotomacBob

@Zom

As a reader, I suspect the cast list is there mainly to help the author keep track of the characters. I've never found them useful, but find it easy to skip them.

John Demille

@awnlee jawking

I find those pointless, especially that I only read a story once it's finished. I'm reading the damn thing sequentially. I don't need reminders who is in the story now.

I believe that authors who keep a cast list at the start of every chapter, needs them as a reminders for themselves and not for the readers. They're useless for readers and should be removed.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

I have to ask, what is the value of a cast list to a reader?


While writing I keep a cast list because I often leave a story aside for weeks between bouts of working on it. However, if the cast goes to 25 or above I'll often beef it out a bit and include to assist the readers in knowing who is who in the story. With some longer stories running up to 50 or more people it can be helpful when someone appears at the start, vanishes, then reapperas many chapters later.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Zom

Novice authors have a tendency to excessively proliferate the number of characters in a story in a dubious attempt to retain the readers' interest. As an example, there are plenty of examples on SOL where, once inducted into a harem, the author loses any interest in furthering a character's development apart from mentioning the mind-blowing orgasms they get every ten chapters or so. Instead the author moves on to the next character to be inducted into the harem.

For those readers who care, the cast list serves as a reminder of the role each character plays.

AJ

REP
Updated:

Most of the cast lists I've seen are useless. They seem to fall into one of several categories:

Description – tells you hair and eye color, height and weight, build, etc. For women, there are their measurements and bra cup size; sometimes states appearance based on (real person). May tell you what abilities they have: physical strength, paranormal powers, wizard, etc.

Relationship – tells you who their ancestors, family, or friends are: grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Plot – tells you the point in the story's chapters or plot line in which the character was introduced. May mention what part the character plays in the plot at that point, and if so, their involvement is not updated as the plot evolves.

Of the above, Plot is probably the most useful. However, it is just a prompt to the reader so they can recall the character's initial involvement in the story. In long stories, it may be helpful to some readers.

The author has a choice: list all characters or only the main characters. I keep a character list for my reference, but I do not post it. I think I'm over halfway complete with writing Part 2 of The Ark. My character list has over 250 characters identified by name in the story. Most of those are bit players that are mentioned (e.g., "Take Bob Johnson with you.") and used to support the main and major supporting characters.

Listing just the key characters with a brief description would require about 3-4 printed pages. Listing the entire cast with a detailed description of their primary involvement would require 20+ printed pages.

In the first case, telling someone that Ensign Kenneth Bilart is the officer in charge of Division 2, Seal Team 2, Troop 1 identifies his position, but failure to define his involvement in the plot makes the prompt almost useless. There would also be no prompt for the names of bit players that are periodically mentioned in the story

In the second case, posting the entire character list with a description of plot involvement of all named characters would be difficult and time consuming to maintain in a meaningful way and the cast list would be filled with spoilers.

Replies:   Michael Loucks
PrincelyGuy

When reading a story, I seldom refer to a cast list, except for those stories that only post once a month or so. Good just to remember that Mary Sue is the sister of Joe Bob and is engaged to Bobby Joe.

If reading a completed story, then I find it nice only if it has been 20 chapters since I last read about the character and need a little refresher. Characters that are in almost all chapters at this point I can still remember.

Michael Loucks

@REP

Plot – tells you the point in the story's chapters or plot line in which the character was introduced. May mention what part the character plays in the plot at that point, and if so, their involvement is not updated as the plot evolves.


I had an instance where a character disappeared (for plot reasons) for a long time, then reappeared in a very surprising way. Because so much story time and so many words had passed, almost nobody remembered who the character was. That led to a blog post and an updated Wiki to explain who the character was.

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Because I can't see one immediately, I have to ask, what is the value of a cast list to a reader?

Authors, like me, keep an internal cast list (more extensive than the published one) to keep track of their own characters, but the posted cast list is to provide a reference for readers who forget who a character might be when they haven't appears for several weeks.

It's basically only for reminding a reader who was who. It's not intended to be read, just referenced like an appendix.

Still, most sources suggest you only include when once the list of characters (or chapters) grows too big. Anything under 30 characters is generally considered safe for not including one.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

With some longer stories running up to 50 or more people it can be helpful when someone appears at the start, vanishes, then reapperas many chapters later.

There are also certain guidelines I've learned to apply to cast lists. You only list characters who appear in multiple, non-sequential chapters, though you list each of the primary and secondary characters. But all those tertiary characters, readers tend to forget who they are almost as soon as they appear.

But even then, cast lists are more important with sequels than for stand-alone stories, and even then, you never list everyone from the original story, only those who reappear in the sequels.

Replies:   AmigaClone
AmigaClone

@Crumbly Writer

But even then, cast lists are more important with sequels than for stand-alone stories, and even then, you never list everyone from the original story, only those who reappear in the sequels.


I can see situations where there might be very minor characters that might appear in a scene in several books of a series that might not appear in a public cast list. I can also see situations where a person might never appear "on scene" in a sequel after playing a significant role in at least one earlier story would still deserve an entry in the public cast list as a result of their influence on characters involved in significant portions of the sequel. For instance, one character might have problems as a result of a bully even though that bully was shipped off to Alaska and does not appear in over several books.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@AmigaClone

I can also see situations where a person might never appear "on scene" in a sequel after playing a significant role in at least one earlier story would still deserve an entry in the public cast list as a result of their influence on characters involved in significant portions of the sequel. For instance, one character might have problems as a result of a bully even though that bully was shipped off to Alaska and does not appear in over several books.

If they're mentioned in the new book, then you list them. However, if they're NOT named (by the characters in a particular book), then there's really no reason to list them (thus they 'drop out' of your cast list).

And just an aside, but I also use the 'cast list' for my own benefit. Since the first chapter in a story tends to get a LOT of false reads (from browsers 'read-ahead' buffer), if you post the cast list as your FIRST chapter, then when you finish the entire story, you request the Admins delete it, and then (a couple days later), you repost the completed version so it goes at the end like it belongs, but erases all those bogus page views.

But that doesn't address whether it's beneficial to include a cast list or not.

sejintenej

Cast lists; generally I don't need them but a few very long stories do introduce a host of new characters at a later stage. At that stage a new cast list is desirable especially if there has been a major change (some characters disappearing and others arriving and in one story two characters with the same name!)..
I don't know if it is possible but in the chapter list would it be possible to place a character list (shown as such and not a chapter number) occasionally?

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Authors, like me, keep an internal cast list (more extensive than the published one) to keep track of their own characters, but the posted cast list is to provide a reference for readers who forget who a character might be when they haven't appears for several weeks.

It's basically only for reminding a reader who was who. It's not intended to be read, just referenced like an appendix.

Still, most sources suggest you only include when once the list of characters (or chapters) grows too big. Anything under 30 characters is generally considered safe for not including one.


A good historical commercial example in my view would be Anne McCaffery's Pern series.

A number of other larger series also qualify as well. When the setting spans dozens of books and boasts dozens upon dozens of characters. Having something to reference to quickly figure out the significance of a particular name is handy. More so for returning readers when the new release was years after the previous one.

Although, IIRC, hers were often rather minimalist.

Generally speaking though, an entirely standalone work in the 100k word range shouldn't have a "sprawling castlist" thing going on to start with. And as most stories fall below that line...

Crumbly Writer

My first story, I only used the character list so readers could catch up on the characters returning from the previous book (i.e. those not showing up in the first few chapters), but by the end of that six-book series, I had well over 100 different characters, who would periodically reappear and detail what was happening in the other cities the lead character had previously traveled to, so the character list was really needed.

My current story really doesn't need one, as there simply aren't that many characters, but once you get in the habit of including one, it's hard to turn the default mechanisms off.

My previous story, while it didn't have that wide of a cast, the names (of the various demons, fairies and dragons) were a killer, but I figured readers would keep looking to determine whether the listed character was a demon or devil.

In general, it's better to have one, and not use it, than to need one and not have one available (or have to reinvent the wheel because you're unfamiliar with the concepts).

Plus, certain genres (like science-fiction) tend to involve more characters, while others (like romances or mysteries) tend to have a largely stable cast. So, for most writers, it's best to know what you need, rather than what someone in another field uses.

Crumbly Writer

I hate to sound ungrateful (the scheduled update post was tremendously helpful, by the way), but I've got another similar suggestion. I know the that chapter updates and author blogs are completely unrelated, but I'm hoping there's some common code that would make the following suggestion an easy fix.

For those of us who like to schedule releases (for books, giveaways, big story reveals), it would help if we could also schedule blog posts (so I can post comments about the story after something in the story gets posted, just so I don't have to worry about including spoilers).

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

it would help if we could also schedule blog posts


How many authors would really need that? It's hard to justify the effort to implement such a functionality.

Technically it's simple. Modify the wizard to accept a blog entry (title and body) along with the other info and then push it into the blogs table when posting, but it's a lot of details and takes time to get everything right.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

That's fine. I can accept that it's too difficult, and is unlikely to be used by most authors. I was just hoping that, maybe it wouldn't be as complex as I assumed it would likely be.

It would benefit me, as I often post blogs for specific chapters, since I know well in advance what happens with each specific chapter, and I can't comment on it until the readers reach that point in the story, but I don't write stories like other writers do anyway.

Thanks for at least considering it. I'll continue managing as I have been, no worse for having asked.

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