Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#1
I am currently working on a fantasy novel (haven't yet posted anything here on it). I have created a rather detailed world, with information ( about climate, history, culture, religions) on the various regions of the continent (in which the novel takes place). I have also created a map of the continent. 

The question is: is it a good idea to have as introduction an 'article' in encyclopedic format about the fantasy world? I am not talking about pages and pages of information (that would understandably bore the reader), but rather a few paragraphs explaining the world and the regions of the continent. Would that be a good idea or it might dissuade readers from reading the novel?  

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#4
This is an absolutely terrible idea in my experience. Readers don't care about worldbuilding when starting out, they care about premise / plot / characterization. Worldbuilding is a distant fourth to those things, and only once you have them invested in the story will they start to want to know more about the world itself. It sounds like reasonable material for like a 4th or 5ht chapter, but never a 1st chapter.

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#5

christos200 Wrote: The question is: is it a good idea to have as introduction an 'article' in encyclopedic format about the fantasy world? I am not talking about pages and pages of information (that would understandably bore the reader), but rather a few paragraphs explaining the world and the regions of the continent. Would that be a good idea or it might dissuade readers from reading the novel?


No, don't do that. Gradually incorporate the information into the story instead. You can do so either with PoV characters who are learning the info alongside the readers, or just including each detail as an aside when you need to reference it for the first time.

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#6
Thanks everyone for the responses. The general consensus seems to be to integrate the worldbuilding into the story and provide info within the chapters, so that's what I will be doing. 

I am thinking on the beginning of the first chapter, before moving into the text, having the map (without any other info or any text) in order to provide a sense of geographical orientation. Would that be better? 

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#7
There is one way to add some extras to it, as a prelude to each chapter - Chrysalis does that regularly. Otherwise, keep the lore on a 'need to know' basis and as a way to make places and people seem more real.

I'm pretty bad at it though

Many of us have created worlds, continents, countries, cities, landscapes, ecosystems and various living (or unliving) things and we want to share the beauty of it with everyone. The sad thing is that almost no one will get quite as enthusiastic about your creation as you do. You've got to create that enthusiasm and curiosity first. The more you dump on people before they are ready, the less receptive they'll be later. Teasers, snippets and rumors about deeper knowledge, greater connections and an actual world being out there will get you that interest.

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#9
This might be too much work for now if you're just starting out with your story, but something to consider for the future. I built a website to put all the encyclopedic stuff about my world on there. Of course, I still mention it in the story when it's needed or fitting, but otherwise readers can explore my site if they want to know more. If you have lots and lots of info, you might also find this a good solution; it lets you share every detail you've made about your world without encumbering your story.

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#10

Quill Wrote: This might be too much work for now if you're just starting out with your story, but something to consider for the future. I built a website to put all the encyclopedic stuff about my world on there. Of course, I still mention it in the story when it's needed or fitting, but otherwise readers can explore my site if they want to know more. If you have lots and lots of info, you might also find this a good solution; it lets you share every detail you've made about your world without encumbering your story.


For anyone who wants to do a lot of worldbuilding but doesn't know how to build a website, WorldAnvil is a great tool. I'm working on mine at the minute, and it's going really well. 

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#12
As rule, starting with heavy a backstory wouldn't be a good idea. You'll lose readers. 

Consider that we read LOTR to follow Frodo, Sam, and crew. We have an emotional connection with them and want to see them succeed. And while Tolkien slowly reveals his world—and a complex world at that—most of us don't read for the Elven lore, which is Middle Earth's backstory. Hell, I skimmed most of that crap when I first read LOTR, especially the poems. Instead, I read to see Sam and his posse fight evil. 

I'm not alone. So I'd just integrate the backstory into the book, revealing it bit by bit. 

Re: Encyclopedic Introduction

#13
In my experience many authors fail at keeping the backstory out of their story. That makes the first few chapters often quite annoying. While an encyclopedic format would not be fun to read, either, it at least has a chance to keep it out of the story. I personally would suggest you write it, then write the story as if every reader had read that entry, then add the absolute minimum needed to understand the story for that that skipped it. And then publish the story without it.

If you don't manage the last step of that, you could also add it as a Not-A-Chapter inside a spoiler-tag.