Calling out all Fantasy Writers/Reader ! Where do I place my book KEY?

:thinking: :thinking:

KEY - a thing that provides a means of gaining access to or understanding something.

Calling out all Fantasy Writers/Readers! Where do I place my book KEY? :sweat:

Usually, I would just bring my self to google and find my answer from there. But no. Alas, I can not find my answer. :exploding_head: SO… I turn to my community for HELP.

As a fantasy writer, I have many Fantasy (made-up) words throughout my text. Placing a definition right next to the word feels wrong and every time I see writer do the same, I find my self snapping back into reality and the illusion of the story’s realism is broken.

Currently, I personally have my KEY placed at the end of my books. Logically this seems like the correct answer but this poses a conundrum for me. As a Wattpad reader, I never think “Hey, before I start this new Wattpad book let me check the back for a KEY first.” Nope. I dive right in. Then I find myself lost if an Author hasn’t over-explained said fantasy-word or thrown in the definition right next to it. And now I’m mad cause I don’t know what the made-up word means! I really like the concept of the author commenting on the word with the definition but that just doesn’t feel right. :woman_shrugging:

For Wattpaders,
Where would you like to see a Story Key?
Where are the proper placements for definitions and/or Story Keys?

What about words in other languages where would you put the translations?

I put my key in the beginning before the first chapter. That way the reader at least knows it exists and can come back to it when they see the name/word.

You mean like an appendix at the end? Or a glossary of made up items/animals etc? I tend to avoid using them - I think most words should be able to be gleamed by context in a sentence or repetition to give clues towards its meaning - that way I don’t have to jump back and forward. But saying that I’d rather them at the start since it means I get to scan over them and see what the type of worldbuilding is like. And if something does sound interesting I tend to read a little faster to see when [word] comes up and why.

You can always use an asterisk and explanation at the bottom of the page/chapter. It is better to stop the flow for a while than get the reader totally lost in five new words spread within one paragraph… And you do not actually have to stop the flow - you can use the same asterisk to present some of your world trivia.

I don’t have a lot of new words, but I do have a lot of different creatures/land/history. I put this in the back. Mine isn’t as integral to the story as it sounds like your’s may be, but you could always leave it in the back and then write a note in the beginning that says something like: “For unfamiliar words and creatures reference the key located at the back of this book.”

Most fantasy books that I’ve read include a glossary either at the beginning or at the end of the book. It’s not necessary to enlist all made-up words in a glossary though, sometimes you can also integrate the explanation of the word in the story itself, which is the most ideal solution in my opinion.

Made-up concepts in fantasy stories should be explained within the story or at least be understandable from the context. So I’d say find a way to ease the definitions and explanations naturally into the narration. That is the big challenge with fantasy stories that require a lot of world building - You don’t want to end up info-dumping things onto the reader but at the same time, certain information are vital for understanding.

I do not like things like appendixes and such, even in published books I find them unnessesary and I never check the back of a book and usually only find them by accident once I finish reading. I would not suggest putting them at the beginning because the more clicks a reader has to make to get to an actual story part, the more likely they’ll be to leave the story and jump to the next one, especially if they end up getting an ad before they can even read a chapter.

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I just have a big fat author note at the start for this sort of thing. I tend not to leave definitions or I weave them in and pray the reader understands :stuck_out_tongue: So far I have only ever had to clarify one thing in the current WIP> I dont think there is any one way, some people just breeze past them and most who read fantasty know there is often a key somewhere if they need it.

Maybe place an entire dictionary at the end, but if the word is in the chapter place it in an A/N of the word meaning so that the readers know what it means?

All my fantasy terminology is usually contextualized so the meaning is inherently understood without a definition. However, it looks more professional to put these things in the back of the book, but I’ve seen many put it in the front.

Personally, I skip right past them because when done well, the meaning can be derived through context anyways.

While sometimes fantasy glossaries are included at the end of a book, they should never be necessary. Having to flip to a new chapter to figure out what a word means (or more likely, just keeping reading and feeling vaguely confused and annoyed because you don’t know what a term means but don’t want to look it up) will certainly break-immersion.

So, that being said, I’ll second what a few other people have said in that you should try to find a way to naturally explain what a term means withing the text, whether by placing enough context clues (Hermoine says ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ and the feather floats, so we know it’s a spell that makes things float), By introducing the concept to a character (Kelsier in ‘Mistborn’ provides a lot of terminology explanation while teaching Vin) or by straight up explaining it in the narrative commentary in a way that doesn’t break the flow of the story.


I have it in the back so they can check if they want to.

For “made up” words, I usually see them in the back of traditionally published novels (e.g. books by Tamora Pierce). For key terminology that exists in real life, I tend to see it at the front (e.g. Brotherband series by John Flanagan has a list of sailing terms at the start because a lot of the story takes place on Viking ships).

I personally would put them at the back. On Wattpad everything is about your first impression. Presenting readers with a key right off the bat basically says “there’s a shitton of stuff you won’t understand in my story so I made a dictionary.” I shouldn’t have to read a dictionary in advance to understand what a word means - that should be provided in the narrative through context. The glossary/key should serve as a reference in case people forget meanings later on (which is likely if you’re serialising your work over a long period of time).

Also, how many people actually read these things before they read the story and will remember what all of it means when they get to them in prose?

First impression is the same reason I don’t like long “about my story” pages, or chapters with characters aesthetics, authors notes, etc. before the first chapter or prologue. I and other readers are there to read your story, so why are you throwing all this stuff at me first when I haven’t had a chance to be invested in it yet?

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