Monday, May 20, 2013

What Color Were Her Eyes?: Keeping Your Facts Accurate

As a writer, you are creating a world, events, and characters. This can range from creating a language, new forms of gravity, or a family of eight. That is a lot of creating and a lot to remember. Whether you are writing something 40,000 words or 140,000 words, it is important that you have a way to remember the people, things, and places you have created. Here are some ideas that I have learned or created.

Keeping Track of Places
Something I would like to call the world.
Maps- As a kid, I loved opening a book and find a map within the first few pages. It was wonderful to have a map to a fictional or a real world. It was helpful during the book when they were talking about flying from Orange Mountain to Blue Fish Lake. The map does not need to be put in the final product but could aid the author in keeping geography accurate.

Building Lay-Out- Draw a lay-out of a house, office, or a building. This helps a writer be accurate when describing where a character is walking or running. This will avoid your character in walking off the elevator and turning left to get to his office in one scene, and then turning right in the next chapter. Walking into you co-worker's office could be embarrassing.
Lay-out is important especially during action scenes.

Neighborhood Description- Draw a picture of the houses on your character's block, and who lives in each house. When little 10 year old Jenny hits a baseball into Mrs. Smith's window, make sure Mrs. Smith does not live a half a mile away.

Other Things to Keep Track: If the book requires character's to travel around town, draw or note the stop lights and lay-out of the town. If you use a setting that is a real place, take pictures. Sometimes my scenes take place in a real places like cafes, stores, restaurants, etc. It is always helpful to write while in those places if available and/or take pictures.

When creating characters, you need to keep track of every aspect you throw on paper.
Physical Description- Keep track of their build, eye color, hair color, skin color, height, how many fingers they have on their left hand, etc.  You don't have to describe this about every character, but if you describe it, record it somewhere.
History- Keep track of anything you say about their background. Did they go to college, been to prison, been in a war, adopted 22 dogs, etc. Keep track of everything you reveal. This will avoid you saying that someone is afraid of dogs, but he has a history of adopting 22 of them.
Likes & Dislikes: If you reveal it, have a way to record it.
Powers or Special Information: Avoid sending your vampire character to the beach. Enough said.

BEST WAY TO RECORD THIS? I like to use index cards.
On that index card I write things like below:

Name:                                                     Age:
Relationships/Family:                           Physical Attributes:
Other Information:

If have a bunch of characters related in some way, use a genogram to track the relationships.

Languages/Spells/ Codes and other Tedious Things We Create
If creating a language, magical spells, or soldier codes, keep a list and what each of them mean. This could be a list you quickly access when the side-kick has to remember how to banish a 20 foot monster. This list could be added as a glossary to the final book or used for the next book in the series if seemed appropriate.

Using some kind of organization to keep your facts consistent is important. You can't have your reader falling in love with a blue-eyed man only to find that he has brown eyes 10 Chapters into the book. Why did he get contacts?

How do you keep track of your facts in your writing?

1 comment:

  1. Great tips for writers, thanks!
    And nice connecting through the World Literary Cafe. Come say hello at my blog Happy blogging!