Index-linked spoilers

June 2, 2011

As a card-carrying member of the attention-deficit generation, at least as far as novels are concerned, the article by Valerie Sanders ("Docked tales", 26 May) reinforced a long-held view about novelists and a major gap in the fiction market. How can novelists be so lazy as to introduce a character on page 5 of a novel and then expect us to remember who that person is when they refer to them again on page 238?

The answer, of course, is two editions of every novel: one "pure" version for the literati, supplemented by a "duffers" edition for the rest of us. This second version would have two key additional elements, namely footnotes to remind us who the various characters are, together with a non-fiction-style index so that we can quickly look up the key happenings relating to those characters and go back to reread as necessary.

Before your astute readers point out the major flaw in my proposal, I realise that the index may need to be edited somewhat so as not to give the main story away. It would be dispiriting indeed to read several hundred pages of a novel, growing ever more emotionally attached to the captivating heroine, only to then accidentally spot a reference in the index: "Heroine, fatal attack by machete".

Jonathan Ruddle, Reading

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald