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For fiction, I tend to not like footnotes. As others have said, it pulls me out of the story. There are rare exceptions where an author can pull it off, but ... well, they're called rare exceptions for a reason.

I also read a lot of fantasy, and generally I find that if I have to go look up something in a footnote or appendix, as far as I'm concerned the author isn't doing his or her job. Making up exotic-sounding words for mundane things strikes me as being a little silly, and if I have to read an appendix to learn the back story so I can understand a novel, the author definitely isn't doing his or her job. Now don't get me wrong, because some fantasy authors can throw a lot of weird names and places at you right in chapter one, but they work in the exposition well so that I don't have to run to an encyclopedia of their world to figure out what's going on; Steven Erikson comes to mind. Then you have writers such as Rowling, who gradually works in the differences between her Potter world and the mundane world.

I also think some writers need to trust their readers more, and not expect that their readers are such dunces they need every little thing explained for them. For example (a bad one, I admit), if a writer use the word kwan for "coin" but uses it in context, the reader is going to understand, at least as long as the writer is consistent with the use of the word.
 

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Plotspider said:
I am gathering a roll-over button in a Kindle doc would be no better received, yes?
In my opinion, that's a better option, but still not a great one. Most readers are not going to be able to pass up the button. Curiosity is going to get them.

Again, I'm thinking that pulls the reader out of the story.

But as you mentioned, footnotes in comedic writing generally work better than story-driven tales. At least if the footnotes themselves are funny and add to the comedy.
 

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jason10mm said:
But nothing is as bad as the "while our hero battles for his life agains tthe ravenous undead hordes, let us digress for a moment about the founding of the empire and why exactly the king always wears yellow on the 3rd tuesday of the month...."
Ha! I had to laugh.

With the exception of ravenous undead hordes, you pretty much just summed up the Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake. The books are full of what seem to be extraneous information, though the author usually doesn't do it in the middle of a tense scene. Descriptions of tapestries, clothing, a section of a castle wall ... it goes on and one for pages upon pages. Peake had his points and his strengths, but readability wasn't necessarily one of them. And I say this as a fan of the first two books (the third one left me cold, but then again it wasn't fleshed out before the author's death).
 
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