Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Write it down!

I'll bet that as an author, you'd think the title refers to stuff like -always carry a pad and paper around not to lose your ideas. Of course with today's technology, smartphones make that easy. I have a 'pen' inside my phone and it can actually read my handwriting. Now that's cool! That is not what this post is about.

Authors, make notes. Not just for yourself, but for readers with great memories. You know, those people who seem to remember every last detail!
Personally, I open a word doc and file it under 'story notes'. I have one for characters, one for invented words and technology since I write Sci-Fi. I make one for the different planets and such. Why? Because going back over a manuscript looking for that one word or detail is a waste of time I'm already short on.

So...what brought this on? Allow me to share. You know I'm going to anyway. OK, here goes. I was reading a book from an author I usually enjoy. I have many of her books, and even though this point has come up in the past, THIS TIME, she's outdone herself. the beginning, she names her character Morgan....and she's named the puppies Linus and Lucy. So far, so good. Yet somehow, there was a temproal shift in that town, or something like that, because in her latest installment, Morgan is now Lucy, and she has renamed a cat and dog Lucy and Linus. Not to mention a family whose mother died after giving birth, leaving the 3 kids has 4 kids from that same deceased mom. Sigh, yes, it bothers me. In the past, her characters have aged at different rates and changed hair color, OK for a teen, but not a 3 year old!

All she would have had to do was this:

Character Info:

Name       Age      Hair and Eye color          Family Ties           Ticks/Mannerisms               Occupation

See, all the info you need at the tip of your fingertips. Now of course, you would adjust the categories according to your needs, but the point here is this: You won't have to go back through a manuscript looking for that comment on family ties, or hair color (or species). Having had to look through my MS for that one detail is what pushed me to start my Info Files. What started as a character info sheet, turned inot a story file filled with details. The great thing is, when I decide to go back and write about these characters in the future, I won't be relying on my memory, but on a quick reference chart that has it all.

So do yourself a favor, (and your reader's as well), create that info sheet, and save time (and face) in the long run.

My Sci-Fi docs have details that have helped me notice that I LOVE blue-green marbled fruit and cups and even clothing (though not marbled), but it helps make sure I vary my descriptions. Same goes for the taste of the food my aliens eat, but it can be as simpla as  -My characters always eat or drink the SAME thing. Something I would notice if I keep track of it in my files!

If you are someone who pays attention to detail, I am sure this would be a great writing tip for you, and if you are a reader with an eye and memory for detail, you'll love your note-keeping authors even more.

I have yet to use Scrivner, but I think they have some form of file or note saving system. So if you know about it, please share! Maybe it will get me to use my Scrivner once and for all :)

Happy writing!

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