YA book recs wanted: Rashomon
The Distant Future of Fandom (age 12) thought this was a great idea, and asked for recommendations for suitable books written this way. We couldn't think of any, so I ask you for recs. Her reading level is near-adult, but she doesn't want anything with sex or violence (including most horror), and nothing where the story revolves around romance ("bo-ring").
In talking about cast-of-thousands stories we talked about The Odyssey, which the DFoF is currently reading as her "outside the curriculum" book for English class. And we also talked about books with very compressed time-frames, and how that's easiest if it's the end of the world (or other sweaping traumatic event). But, she said, you *could* have a book about only one ordinary day if it were done in enough detail. Especially if it's a thought-diary, where you put in everything the person thinks.
Yes, that's right. Our 12-year-old deduced the existence of Joyce's "Ulysses". I don't know whether to be more smug or more staggered.
While I'm at it, I'll record my comment from the Dreamcafe post:
The reason they’re telling you not to do cast-of-thousands stories is that *most* of them suck like a hoover — see most disaster novels, the kind that have a cast list and that flip from one set of characters to the next in a set rotation.
Any time you need a cast list, you’re probably doin’ it wrong, because that means there are too many characters for the reader to keep track of who’s who. The reader can only keep track of actual characters at some rate — characters introduced per 5000 words is probably the metric to use — which is not infinite. It also depends on the rate at which the reader (viewer) will consume what you’re writing. Tolstoy & Dickens had a lot of “readers” who were actually getting the works as read-alouds, which is much slower and gives the readers a lot more time to absorb each character before going on to the next.
Steven (and Terry Pratchett) have built up enormous casts by the more modern method of writing series, where each book is a mix of older characters and new ones. I think adding new characters in spurts like that is particularly effective, because they come as “sets” which are easier to remember.
It’s like, imagine you’re at a con (or conference) where you have to meet 50 people in two days, then go home and write up your impressions of each one. You can talk to each person for an hour, never sleep, and if you’re me when you get home it will be all a blur. And you’ll have Con Crud.
Or you can meet them as panels of 5, two hours per panel, still have time for sleep and personal hygiene, and when you come home each person will have a context and a prayer that you’ll remember them.
You’ll still probably have Con Crud, though.