Glossaries and Lists Needed or not?

A recent conversation amongst some science fiction writers involved the pros and cons of having and/or publishing glossaries and character lists.

My sci-fi/fantasy series requires, for my own reference at a minimum, a list of characters (names, ages, personalities, familial relationships for all and occupations, quirks & secrets/fears if a major player), places, items of social significance, religions, swear words, wildlife, foods, all with a pronunciation guide if needed, etc. I have a separate file on my laptop so I can add to it as new characters or terms are needed or appear in the stories. The decision to include such when the first book is released later this spring has not yet been made. I have found that reviewing this list occasionally to be enlightening as it reminds me of characters, usually, who have been cut out of a scene and I may find a use for them in later scenes or books.

I also have a running list of character names as a pool to choose from, especially if I am struggling with a new character or I need to change a name because the name does not fit anymore. That list resides in a small notebook which travels with me (whereas my laptop may not) so I can add to it as sounds present themselves. Realize the sound of a word has a subconscious impact and as characters are developed the name they start out with are not necessarily the best one and you should not feel bad about changing a name. If you liked the first name you came up with perhaps it will fit a different character, so don’t just delete it. It may be the inspiration you need for the next project.

Whether or not you include this extra material may depend on the sheer number of characters or the amount of science/magic in your story. It may also depend on space or page count or even technology available. I liked the idea of having access to a list by highlighting a word on the Kindle, Nook, or other electronic reader. If words can be connected with a dictionary I see no reason why they can’t also be connected to glossary or pronunciation guide related to the story being read. Perhaps that is already available and I don’t know about it yet.

Having such lists is invaluable to writers as worlds are being built whether it involves science fiction, fantasy, or your current neighborhood or nonfiction work. I suggest you get started on your list now.


Author: TimberDark Writer

Simply, I am passionate about writing and dancing. I also love reading, quilting and hunting. I have written stories since childhood. I have a degree in English, taught in a parochial school, substituted K-12, raised three daughters, coached and refereed youth soccer, square danced since I was seven, and created and hand quilted award winning quilts. When not writing I assist my husband teach square dancing 3-4 times a week, co-coach an historical dance exhibition team and I hunt with my family and friends to fill the freezer. I have two award winning novels. "The Blood,"published in May 2014 is a multiple award winner, placing third in both the Science Fiction and Fantasy categories of the 2014 EVVY Awards, from Colorado Independent Publishers Association and received a four star review by Foreword Clarion Review in May 2016. The second novel, "The Balance", was published in September 2016, placed second in Science Fiction in the 2017 EVVY Awards. Both books are available on Amazon and in the young adult fiction shelves at The Tattered Cover Book Store in the Denver, Colorado metro area. Book three of the series, "The Blades" is under construction. My TimberDark Writer blog is a part of my writing process. You are invited to share in the journey. Contact me at or on my Facebook page:

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