Sorting Out Characters

I’m finally catching up with the writing prompts. I don’t cheat – I don’t try and fit prompts that work for my story and I don’t check upcoming prompts to make things easier. Instead I’m allowing Back to the White Hart to wander its winding way through the random prompts and watching with interest to see where it ends up. I’m very much enjoying the chaos that is inevitably attached to that particular story arc.

I’ve written quite a lot around the White Hart. There’s around 200,000 words contained in the three books on Amazon and I’ve written quite a few extra stories which you can find under After the White Hart. The stories go back at least a decade, as well, so trying to remember all the little details that keep it real for me is a trial. This is even worse when I factor in the issues I have finding stuff on my computer, you know, like I said in a previous post and that I was certain that I was going to sort out. I’m sharing this as it may be a comfort to other writers, or even a little useful. Besides, it makes be at least slightly accountable.

To be fair, I’ve been slowly chipping away at chaos. It doesn’t help that everything that I save to my laptop is also saved to the cloud, but not everything that I save to the cloud is saved to my laptop. I have spent far too long trying to find a relatively recent copy of Tales from the White Hart and far too much bad language. I was trying to remember what Martin’s name was before he changed it to Martin (Aelfhelm, for the record) when I was writing Qualified Success and I couldn’t think of it. So today I started a character record by dragging out a project notebook that I had planned to use as a price book.

It’s a fault in my character, but I have to work things out for myself. The starting plan goes like this. I’m using a separate section for each collection of stories. In each section, I’ll have an index (which meant I had to number all the pages, except that I only numbered the odd pages because I could work out which page came, for example, between 7 and 9), and then I can check the index for a character.

I’ve made a key for the characters, together with highlighters. I’m not sure how that will work, but it’s a start and I put it at the start of the section. I’m working on the theory that I’ll end up changing it to make it more convenient, but it will do for now.

Yes, my writing is that bad

Then I’ll go through the various books I’ve written, make notes of the characters and include things like ‘how do they like their coffee?’ and ‘previous lovers/friends/enemies/pets’ and, in the case of the elfen, ‘previous and current obsessions’.

It’s going to be scrappy, messy and I’ll be adding bits as I go along. I’ve tried creating characters from a template and they just snigger at me and do what they darn well please. So when I’m writing and I add a quirk or a detail, I’ll note it in the book. When I’m looking up whether a character prefers red or blue, I’ll note in the book as soon as I find it. I may use the book as I’m writing new stuff but I wouldn’t put money on it. I’m not that organised.

And I’m limiting my work to five minutes a day because I have a lot of other stuff that I want to write and that’s about my attention span at the moment. Here’s hoping that it’ll help my writing.

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