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Maybe I've missed this (I don't find the Help file to be all that comprehensive). It would be useful for me, although I'm writing a novel - and might be essential for someone writing a factual book.

 

Best,

Jamie.

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Maybe I've missed this (I don't find the Help file to be all that comprehensive). It would be useful for me, although I'm writing a novel - and might be essential for someone writing a factual book.

 

Best,

Jamie.

 

Hi Jamie,

 

Thanks for the suggestion. A couple of questions:

  1. Are you looking for footnotes support in the manuscript or notebook entries, or both?
     
  2. For your novel, would you use them for notes to yourself or to your readers? I.e. does the presentation matter or just the ability to keep notes on a specific bit of text?

Others are welcome to comment too.

 

-Steve

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Hi Jamie & Steve,

 

I see the a notebook page useful for both notes to myself and, separately, endnotes (which would require formatting). I see footnotes in the manuscript for the reader. So I suppose both are useful. It's not really an either or thing.

 

Just a thought.

-Thoth

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Hi Jamie,

 

Thanks for the suggestion. A couple of questions:

  1. Are you looking for footnotes support in the manuscript or notebook entries, or both?
     
  2. For your novel, would you use them for notes to yourself or to your readers? I.e. does the presentation matter or just the ability to keep notes on a specific bit of text?

Others are welcome to comment too.

 

-Steve

 

Hi Steve,

 

I actually want the footnotes to appear in the finished text; I'm writing a semi-factual, historical account and I like the idea (deluded no doubt!) that footnotes will make it feel more factual, less fictional. Of course I realise I could get round that by inserting them as numbered notes at the end - but then I'd have to control the numbering myself which is a drag if one adds a note near the beginning and has to re-number all the ensuing ones.

 

Best,

 

Jamie.

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Hi Steve,

 

I actually want the footnotes to appear in the finished text; I'm writing a semi-factual, historical account and I like the idea (deluded no doubt!) that footnotes will make it feel more factual, less fictional. Of course I realise I could get round that by inserting them as numbered notes at the end - but then I'd have to control the numbering myself which is a drag if one adds a note near the beginning and has to re-number all the ensuing ones.

 

Best,

 

Jamie.

 

This first point really belongs in the writing section, but that's how threads go. As a reader/writer/editor, I would urge caution in using footnotes in novels no matter how semi-factual. Once in a while, it can work (some of Jasper Fforde's novels make effective use of notes, e.g.), usually as a single reference to a past novel in a series where some major plot point now being cited is developed at length. On the whole, though, footnotes serve a purpose in nonfiction (showing that the author isn't making stuff up) that is not really relevant to fiction (Tolstoy, to give one example, blatantly altered court protocol, military practice, and anything else that suited his fancy while writing War and Peace, and no one cared, even in the days when the customs he was describing were still familiar to his readers).

 

The idea here is not to tell you how to write your work but to suggest that you keep in mind that as a fiction writer you want to draw the reader into your world, so that for a while the reader becomes your protagonist and experiences the world through his/her eyes. Anything that gets in the way of that, even the helpful notes on what Mechlin lace is or what Austen meant by complacency that decorate "literary classics," is a distraction. And you don't want distractions, because when something pulls the reader out of your world s/he is more likely to put the book down and perhaps not pick it up again.

 

But if you are going to use notes, you'd definitely want footnotes rather than endnotes, because the distraction of requiring someone to flip to the back of the book is greater.

 

Unrelated second point: are there other contexts in which footnoting would also be useful: in screenwriting, for example?

Regards, and best wishes in the struggle,

Marguerite

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But if you are going to use notes, you'd definitely want footnotes rather than endnotes, because the distraction of requiring someone to flip to the back of the book is greater.

 

Actually, I've noticed a more popular alternative for fiction. A number of authors simply use a non-cross-referenced notes section at the end of the book. Tom Clancy's techno-military thrillers practically require them. So does some hard sci-fi (I'm thinking Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle). Strictly speaking, if the author doesn't cross-reference it to the text (so as not to break the moment, as Marguerite suggests) is it really an "endnote" or just a "note at the end". Either way it seems a reasonable alternative.

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The idea here is not to tell you how to write your work but to suggest that you keep in mind that as a fiction writer you want to draw the reader into your world, so that for a while the reader becomes your protagonist and experiences the world through his/her eyes. Anything that gets in the way of that, even the helpful notes on what Mechlin lace is or what Austen meant by complacency that decorate "literary classics," is a distraction. And you don't want distractions, because when something pulls the reader out of your world s/he is more likely to put the book down and perhaps not pick it up again.

 

Regards, and best wishes in the struggle,

Marguerite

Dear Marguerite,

 

Thanks, I take your point. It's just that there's one particular section of the text which reads like a found and factual narrative where I want to put a couple of footnotes; for example, one character, Patrick, describes the circumstances of the death of his brother which took place 30 years ago (in 1804, at sea) when he (Patrick) was just a boy. Now he obviously wouldn't necessarily know the full facts of the event; so he describes them briefly but not quite accurately and the "editor" puts the more complete accurate version in a note.

 

OK, well I like it as an idea anyway! It may disappear - and it may not.

 

Best,

 

Jamie.

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Dear Marguerite,

 

Thanks, I take your point. It's just that there's one particular section of the text which reads like a found and factual narrative where I want to put a couple of footnotes; for example, one character, Patrick, describes the circumstances of the death of his brother which took place 30 years ago (in 1804, at sea) when he (Patrick) was just a boy. Now he obviously wouldn't necessarily know the full facts of the event; so he describes them briefly but not quite accurately and the "editor" puts the more complete accurate version in a note.

 

OK, well I like it as an idea anyway! It may disappear - and it may not.

 

Best,

 

Jamie.

 

Yes, I can see that might work, as it's not taking the reader out of the story but supplying information within your created world (that's how Jasper Fforde uses notes, too--in his case a footnoting worm [i think] has escaped the Bookworld and is roaming through his text). I thought you meant that you wanted to give historical background in your notes, and Thoth is right: a generalized round-up at the back of the book is a much better place to impress the reader with the quality of your research. They'll read it there, if you've done your job properly, because they're not quite ready to let go of your world. Glossaries, character sheets (if you have complicated names, etc.), brief notes explaining that your characters use a different calendar--all that stuff has its place, so long as it doesn't interrupt the narrative.

 

Perhaps another, better-informed character could supply the missing information there or later?

In any case, good luck. Sounds interesting.

Marguerite

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