Keeping Track

I’m not the most organized person in the world. Truth is, I can put something down and two minutes later not remember where I left it. Important things, like rights reversions on books or airlline tickets, I put on the bulletin board in my office. Really important things stay in Bob’s keeping. (I only get to touch my passport when I’m showing it to the customs people, then I immediately give it back to him.)

So you can imagine how I am when it comes to keeping up with my characters. I’ve tried notebooks, word files, Excel files, index cards, Post-It notes, poster boards, and I still wind up forgetting names, details, descriptions.

Right now I have two manuscripts in progress, both parts of series. The Copper Lake series has over 300 characters and covers five states and two countries. The second is my women’s fiction series, which so far has four major players, six secondaries and about 40 minor characters. Each of the majors and secondaries are from different places, have family deets to remember, plus the calendar on this one is tough because I have to track not only the present but also major events in everyone’s not-too-distant past.

And I’m convinced, there’s GOT to be a better way. My ideal way would be to have someone who has all that info in her head to give it to me when I need it — I’m thinking along the lines of Siri on the iPhone. You know — always there, always knows, but doesn’t distract you from work.

Failing my very own virtual assistant, I figure I’ll keep puttering along the best I can. If you know of a better way to track this stuff, let me know. I’m drowning in characters!



6 thoughts on “Keeping Track

  1. Your problem is your memory is too good. If you’d had a leaky head like mine you’d have started writing things down a long time ago. LOL. When the amount of stuff to remember gets too big for even you, you gotta do something.
    The best way I have is to put it in a document (excel or word) and put that in the same file with my work in progress.
    I’m not organized. Just forgetful and desperate.

  2. I’m so relieved to learn that a successful professional like you has this problem, too. I’ve been so ashamed of my own poor efforts at organizing info about characters. Maybe we should start a club, “My name is Jackie and…

  3. I just can’t find any way that I’m happy with that is consistently easy to use. Right now I’m using “comments” on Word to make notes of things I need to rememberl. Next week, I’ll transfer all those comments to my Excel file, but it’s still already starting to get unwieldy. And I haven’t even started Books 2 and 3!

  4. Let me know when you discover the secret. My series is only 3 books and 3 short stories, but I don’t know how many times I have to write a note to myself to check, “name of librarian in GNOME” Or “who names their LEPRECHAUNS XXX?–check it”. Yeah, I need a personal asst. to do the crap work of keeping the characters organized. I started it once, but got bored when I added too many incidentals.

  5. I know you don’t expect me to offer the LOW TECH approach, but I seriously think with that many folks, you’d do better to print out a single sheet on each character, put it in a plastic protector in a three ring binder and keep it next to you on the desk. Alphabetize them by first and/or last name and then fling the binder next to your monitor. When you need a reminder, it’s flip it open, look it up and slap it closed. Just sayin’. spw

  6. Okay, I’m there with everyone else Marilyn, no clue how to organize and keep track of characters, yet looking for inspiration. On the bright side, if you do ever discover a way to do it, you can write a book about it and sell the heck out of it!

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