Footnotes in fiction: let’s talk about them.
I just watched Crazy Rich Asians on Netflix. And you know what? I liked it way better than the book—which I didn’t finish.
Please don’t get me wrong. It’s a nice story. But there was something in it that put me off.
IT WAS THE FOOTNOTES.
I am no stranger to footnotes. I read books which include them: reference books, non-fiction books.
In those books, I have no problem reading footnotes. But when I came upon them in Crazy Rich Asians, only then did I realize that I don’t like them in fiction books.
It got me thinking: am I wrong in feeling this way?
I read a few articles suggesting that including footnotes in your novel can be a good thing. One article said that the liberal use of footnotes by an author deconstructed the story further, making it even more disjointed, and that the use of footnotes even disrupts the novel’s flow.
But that’s just it. Footnotes disrupt the novel’s flow.
I quite agree with this writer that footnotes in novels interrupt the flow of the writing and are annoying and confusing to a reader.
Not all readers, of course. But some readers feel the same way I do.
Here are some comments I found on Reddit:
- “I also feel like it’s just a lazy way of writing. Why can’t you implement that information into the main text? It’s like a movie that asks you to pause every 10 minutes to watch a youtube video or something.”
- “It’s a bit of a peeve to me too. I’d rather see it woven into the narrative.”
- “When I read a book with footnotes, it feels like it breaks my reading flow.”
- “I bloody hate them, totally throw me out of the rhythm. Sometimes I just avoid them if they’re in the book.”
But I also agree with another Reddit user that there are books that do it well and it just depends on the execution.
Well, maybe the Crazy Rich Asian book just didn’t do it for me. It doesn’t mean all fiction with footnotes will.
What about you? How do you feel about footnotes in fiction?