There’s a feature on Amazon’s Kindle books called X-Ray. It isn’t available on every book, and it’s not something that you have the option of adding to your book when you load it onto Amazon, but for some reason, it has turned up on my novel Dare to Dream. I don’t know whether it requires a certain number of downloads, or a certain number of highlighted passages, but whatever the reason, Dare to Dream now has it. And it’s fun.
X-Ray is a feature that allows you to “see the bones of the book”. When you click on the X-Ray tab, it pulls up a list of People and Terms (51 and 10 respectively for Dare to Dream, although some of those “people” are ponies and dogs) and shows you in a wee bar chart where they appear in the book with a black line.
Marley Carmichael is the first name on the list, and her bar is a solid line of black, meaning she appears on pretty much every single page of this book.
Van Carmichael is next, with only a couple of small white spaces where she apparently is less prominent in the story for a while.
Kristen follows, somehow losing her surname, and having a handful of places where she is missing from the story (although I suspect that if Dream On ever manages to get X-Ray enabled, those roles will be reversed – there is more of Kris than Van in the sequel).
Cruise Control is next, and the list goes on.
When you touch on each of these characters’ names, it gives a full list of quotes, showing every time the name is mentioned in the book. Obviously for characters like Marley and Cruise, this happens hundreds of times. For others, who are only mentioned once or twice, the list of quoted passages is much shorter. One of the cool things about it is that it helps if you forget who a character is. For example, when I highlight Laura Buckeridge in the epilogue, it pops up with an X-Ray box reminding me of the last time Laura had shown up in the story:
“I’m glad you caught him,” Laura said. “He was so scared, he might have busted through the ring ropes.”
When you’re in the main X-Ray box, for each character that you click on, it gives you a quote from the text at the top of the page, providing a quick insight into who this person is. For the characters who turn up regularly, like Marley and her sisters, it’s simply the first time they are mentioned in the text. But for others, who aren’t quite so prominent, it doesn’t seem to pick up just the first one, and it’s quite neat flicking through and getting the X-Ray descriptions of each character.
Here are a few of my favourites:
“Cruise stood patiently, alert but relaxed, as she unclipped the lunge line and coiled it up.”
“Pete had been a fierce rival of Van’s back in her pony riding days, but unlike his snotty little sister, he’d always been nice to Marley.”
“Their belief that their daughter was the best thing since sliced bread had built up Susannah‘s dangerously high self-esteem.”
“But some of them have been exceptional, she thought, and none more so than Nimble. She’d known from the start that he was special, and he’d definitely proven himself to her last year when he’d beaten all comers at Nationals to take out the Speed Pony Championship.”
“Ajax’s muscles were bunching under his shining coat, his mane and tail were like silk and his eyes were bright and alert.”
“Breeze flattened her ears at this unflattering analogy and sulked off to stuff herself with more grass.”
“Buck fought for his head, trying to see the jump. Susannah gave him just enough rein at the last possible moment, and the honest pony found his stride and cleared the jump.”
“But Dad was always with her, and his touch was everywhere around the farm. He had built this place for his family, and the barn and yards and arena were all testament to his devotion to his three horse-crazy daughters.”
“Dottie, an aged spaniel lying on a rug in the corner of the room, lifted her head and whimpered softly.”
“Katy O’Reilly was lying on her stomach tearing blades of grass out of the ground and listening to a story being told her by a girl with curly red hair, about staying with her cousin in England.”
If you’ve read Dream On, that last one was for you.