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Do You or Don't You?



As I struggle to finish WRITING my first book, I need some feedback: Do YOU read forewords, prefaces, front quotes, etc. when you read a novel for fun (as opposed to when you are ASSIGNED to read them, and so forced to pay attention to them...)?

Edit: Anyone wanting to SAMPLE before/after they comment, the story is "hiding" back at http://pandemo.livejournal.com/2001/01/

I began putting more polished bits in what I hoped was in order, one part per date. That way, by changing the date, I could rearrange the pieces as needed. As I edited, I added a date for when I last revised. Later on, some entries will have a WC (word count) feature, and some an RL (reading level).

(Yeah, I do NaNoWriMo.)

The current table of contents is a MESS at present. Avoid it.

Maybe I shouldn't post this... It sounds too much like a commercial...

-- Maybe I should. You all are GREAT commenters! If I ever want to publish, I *need* good quality feedback...

Comments

( 44 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )
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therikkster
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:34 am (UTC)
Only if they're humourous, or contain information for the book. I skip anything that rambles on about family, children, or the author's personal life.
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
A Fake
Here's the current version of the Prologue: http://pandemo.livejournal.com/22881.html

But, I assure you, the only thing in common with my "real" life is that I *really* AM a teacher...
imgomez
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
Yes. I always read everything, in order, as the author intended.
sisypheantask
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
I might question "as the author intended," since this supposes that authors intend prefaces and forewords, which are often written by someone else or requested by a publisher or written after an author's death.
Ah! - pandemo - Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Me, Too - pandemo - Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - imgomez - Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
sisypheantask
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
I usually read just about everything that comes in a book, including the back jacket, the praface, any passages the author quotes in the front, dedications, etc - except when dedications are two pages long and just look like a list of names.
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
As a Reader
As a reader, I, too, tend to be an omnivore.

I decided I liked quotes at the front of chapters, a la some of Robert Heinlein's work I remembered from childhood readings. Coming up with GOOD ones (I suspect he invented a lot of his own...) is a bit harder than it sounds. I've always been a quotation collector, and wound up having to move them into a month and organize them by subject finally...

The collated list, (missing about a year's worth of entries)
http://pandemo.livejournal.com/2002/06/

The list of quotes already placed somewhere: http://pandemo.livejournal.com/2001/06/

My choice of the funniest quote that fits perfectly into the story (so far, anyway...): http://pandemo.livejournal.com/82214.html
wirenth
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)
yes, most of the time.
fiveforsilver
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:41 am (UTC)
Generally, yes, I do, but it can depend on the type of preface/forward/etc., who writes it, and whether the first few words or sentences or pages (if it's that long) keep my attention. It has to be at least as interesting and well-written as whatever I opened the book planning to read, if not more so, for me to keep reading. There have been some really boring ones that I tried to read, then skipped past.
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
Ah!
And I can sure think of a few I WISH I'd skipped! :-)
iloveyoukinda
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
if the author writes the foreward/preface i do. but if it's written by another author, just adding in their own two cents about the book, then i do not.
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
Sensible!
When I worded my post, that never occurred to me, although I know it happens! I should have been more specific!

Ah, but then, if I had, I would have missed some of these comments, which are great food for thought!
conformer
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)

Some people show up late for a show because they think that's what overtures are for.

And some overtures aren't worth listening to.

But others give you a motif that might be repeated later.

=]'
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
Great Analogy!
Living up to your lj name, I see... Thanks!
psiqueue
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
I usually try to read them; sometimes, they have some interesting things to say.

However, about two months back, this one author I know dedicated his book to a few people, and let me tell you, there was a great deal of debate over this dedication...
And now, some of the other other authors who write in this same line are more aware of what they put in the dedication page. (It was even a joke going around at a recent convention).
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
Sounds Interesting
Of course, I can't remember whose book it was, something I read for a class, but the dedication was an "in" joke only people who read heavily in that genre would get. It turned out to embarrass me, as when I pointed it out, the TEACHER did not get it.
Re: Sounds Interesting - psiqueue - Aug. 4th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Sounds Interesting - pandemo - Aug. 4th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
otherdeb
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
I tend to read everything.
darth_kittius
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:50 am (UTC)
I always read everything... including the ToC, which tends to spoil me as a result.
mencc1701
Aug. 3rd, 2006 02:53 am (UTC)
That's why you always have to be careful reading those old novels with the really descriptive chapter names:

Chapter 31: In Which Our Hero Discovers The Butler Did It
(no subject) - darth_kittius - Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mencc1701 - Aug. 3rd, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
LOL! - pandemo - Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
karenleigh
Aug. 3rd, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
I read everything.
rutemple
Aug. 3rd, 2006 01:09 am (UTC)
It depends. Are they necessary to the story?
framing quotes are overrated, imho; don't knock yourself out searching for just the right bon mot to lead into your writing, just leap in.
As for prefaces or forewords, aren't those usually by way of a "you go" pat on the back from another Name writer or editor, that we should think well of their positive words about you and the work and read it? I'll read those when I pick up a book in a store, idly.
Is the pre-story that might go in a preface better suited to an earlly chapter? is it spoilerish (nooooo!)?
front quotes are usually something the publisher takes care of, as in short reviews of the work, or lovely quips from authors in the genre or field who say "this one's good, gang." Ditto a foreword by someone else introducing you or the work.

Do I read them, though. Yeah, usually. Even if they're not all on the order of Peter S. Beagle's essay introducing the Tolkein Reader, they're generally interesting.
Epigrammatic quotes have started to annoy me, showing up out of place in my work editing disseratations (where we're all pretty sure they just Don't Belong), so I'm apt to skip them anywhere else more often than not these days. It would take something as fascinating as Princess Irulan's exceerpts from the Encyclopedia Galactica in Dune, these days, to make me glad it's there at all.
Sorry if I come off as cranky, I'm seeing this at the end of an editing day (*gnarf, snarl*).


pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
Cranky? Not!
Seeing the care and specificness of your comments, it makes me wish you were proofreading/editing MY work!
kateshort
Aug. 3rd, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
Feh.

You get two pages of material before the book starts if you want to be semi-guaranteed that I'll read it. Or perhaps a few sets of small pages-- a page-and-a-half foreword by someone else, a half-page dedication, a page of framing quotes or other background material.

Other than that, it had better be *darned* good for me to wade through it. :)

At the end, it really depends. Once I've gotten through a book, I'm more likely to know whether I'd be interested in reading an afterword, a historical note, reader's guide questions, an author interview, or other related things like those. At that point, if I'm in the mood, I can stick around and graze on neat facts, witticisims, etc. Like the stuff at the end of a Piers Anthony book. I don't mind reading that after I've finished the work, and am relaxed and satisfied with it. (At least, I and the author hope I'm satisfied with it!)

But I don't want to have to read a bunch of that stuff to get the context of the book. Especially not before starting. I usually want to jump right in to things once I've figured out what I want to read. I want the book to stand on its own.

That's one of the reasons I haven't bought a new copy of The Princess Bride yet. I thumbed through a XXth Anniversary Edition, and it had two fake forewards that just lost me completely. My students would probably give up and just put the book back instead of skipping ahead to "the good stuff."
pandemo
Aug. 3rd, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
I Know Where You're Coming From...
One of the things I teach is reading...

Ditto my comment to rutemple
fleaux
Aug. 3rd, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
I usually skip everything that is not part of the novel and/or that was not written by the author.
tabby_of_doom
Aug. 3rd, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
Yes, but only after I've read the book. I've found that sometimes the foreward gives the plot away, and that pisses me off.
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