Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to keep track of facts for a book series?

One thing I have been crunching possibilities on is how to keep track of details so they remain consistent between books in a series.  Sometimes it is as simple as did I spell it with a hyphen or without?  What was Misty's date of birth again?  Is the clump of white hair at her left temple or her right?

I have been using yWriter 5 for organization and word count because it has a section on characters and a place for notes: physical description, alternate names, biography, and the like, as well as the actual chapters.  But I write in a word process and transfer scenes as I go, so I do not always have it open and easy to check my facts.

protect my husband's wall from sticky note infestation
I have considered a notebook, but that is not split-second access ready.  A wall of sticky notes would be a great idea, but I can just hear my husband now indirectly criticizing by pointing out all the little colorful sheets of paper on the wall which detracts from his fine paint job or the ones floating about the floor because I will be working on this for a few years, what with seven books to the series, and some of that sticky on the paper is going to give itself up to variations in mugginess and dry air.  And what about the fact that I am usually working on two or three projects at once in different stages of production:  drafting, redrafting, editing, getting publication ready?  I don't have that many walls available.

I never use spreadsheets (some sort of neurosis holding my back from that) unless there is no avoiding them, i.e., other people have to make them and my job has to require I look at them.

Right now I have a piece of graph paper with a timeline on one side and various scribbles on the other for current important facts I keep needing to confirm.  I think it is buried under a draft of my anthology and a notebook full of poetry.

So can anybody recommend a solution to this issue?  I am interested in hearing novel ideas tried and true or otherwise.  Please keep the spreadsheet recommendations down to a minimum though.

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