After our very popular “Night of Souls” issue, in this issue we return to three ongoing storylines. Among these is Mark Murray’s “Friendships of Stone” series, which began in DargonZine 10-6. We also continue Alan Lauderdale’s ongoing “Quadrille” series and conclude Jim Owens’ “Pudlong and the Beanstalk” trilogy, both of which began in DargonZine 10-5.
If you are new to DargonZine, let me reassure you that we try to avoid having issues where all of the stories require you to have read prior works, but as you can see, we don’t always succeed. We understand that as you peruse a new magazine, it’s frustrating to discover that you need to go back and read a bunch of prior works before you can make heads or tails of the material at hand.
That’s especially true of DargonZine, where there is a huge body of prior knowledge, contained in a voluminous mass of undifferentiated prose that has built up over more than a dozen years. The fortunate thing is that our body of knowledge is a no more than a click or two away.
But that’s still more effort than it ought to be. As a magazine where users can subscribe and unsubscribe at the push of a button, it is imperative that we not only capture the attention of our new readers, but also hold their attention by giving them enough background information about the milieu that they don’t feel like they’ve been thrown into the middle of a story. Perhaps our biggest challenge is bringing new readers up to speed on Dargon, so that they can appreciate and enjoy the storylines we craft in that setting.
One of the most successful techniques we have employed to address this issue is the Online Glossary. Each time a Dargon-specific thing appears in a story on our Web site, its name is a hyperlink to a description of that entity. This enables readers to quickly garner the background information they need in order to appreciate each story. We’ve also created a “New Reader Introduction” page that also lives on the Web site, describing many of the most frequently-encountered people, places and things. Furthermore, although it’s not obvious until you start reading, a majority of our storylines are essentially self-contained, requiring no specialized knowledge to appreciate.
But despite these efforts to help bring new readers up to speed, we could use your input as well. We would love to hear from you if you have any ideas about how we can do a better job helping people get over this hurdle. The longevity and interrelatedness of our anthology should not be a barrier to new readers.