Monday, June 15, 2009

What was your name again?

Typically I know a lot more about every person who walks onto the page of one of my stories than the reader ever needs to know. For minor, repeating characters I like to have at least a general idea of the character's back story because it influences how the character acts and reacts to what is happening in the story. For major characters, this is, of course, a necessity, but I also like to know at least a little information about every character who has a name.

As I'm digging through my rough draft and starting my revision process, I'm finding myself bogged down with keeping up with characters. Not that there are all that many characters, but by chapter seven, I no longer remember what color a minor character's hair was in chapter two or if I spelled a name with an 'e' or an 'i'. Trying to keep up this information between two books is even more complicated.

A system is definitely called for.

At some point while working on Once Bitten, I created separate documents for every character (some who haven't even been given names yet in the series) with everything I know about the character and their history written down. The issue with this is system is that some of the information is no longer correct (and some of it isn't filled out at all.)

For my side project, I took a different approach and created a spreadsheet with all my characters and their pertinent information listed in rows and columns. I think this approach worked a little better, as I don't have to pull up multiple documents to look at different characters, but I still have to be diligent about changing the information when I change it in the book. One of the issues I'm running into with my spreadsheet is that I can't use it inside scrivner.

Nothing is perfect, but I'm still looking for a better way to say organized. If you are a writer, how do you keep up with your characters? Any organization tips?


Marcia Colette said...

I hate spreadsheets. There was a time when I used then, but then I kept losing them on my computer. So, I've resorted to using comments in MS Word. Whenever I need to note a special characteristic about my characters, I tack on a comment with a keyword like "heroine description" and keep writing.

Kalayna Price said...

Putting keywords in the comments is a good idea! I'll have to try that next first draft.