Monday, April 24, 2006


I have a character sheet for each character. It’s not online but I’ll include links to some that are at the end of this post. The front of my sheet is basic info: hair, eyes, occupation, relationships, personality quirks/habits and distinctive physical characteristics (scars, etc go here). I write important back-story information on the back. These sheets stay in a thin three ring binder. I don't fill them in completely and I don't stress over them but I do write things down as I go. It's easier for me to flip pages in the binder than to search back through a WIP when I can't remember exactly what color eyes so and so has. I keep all of my character sheets in the binder – grouped by project. When I finish a project, I may move the character sheets to that project’s folder in my filing cabinet.

Project folders are where I store outlines, research notes and whatever else comes up for that project. I have one file folder for each project and one labeled Ideas. When I get an idea for a story (whether it’s a novel, a short story or just some vague impressions and a bit of dialogue), I file it away in the Ideas folder. If I’m at the computer, I might pour the idea into a word document and store it in the electronic version of my Ideas folder. If I’m not at the computer, index cards are my friends. I keep a stack in my purse and I’m rarely away from home without my purse. I also keep index cards on the desk and in the kitchen.

The cards are good for jotting down those pesky things I need to remember to do later. It always happens. I sit down at the computer, slide on the headphones, put all six Gary Allan albums in the play list, open my WIP and think “Oh, man, I was supposed to call Jimbo about the chain saw” (or whatever). I have two choices when that happens. Make my call and try again or make a note. I’ve found if I jump up to do whatever it is I remembered, the same thing happens when I manage to get back to the desk. I don’t get anything done if I don’t keep my butt in the chair. Unless I’m facing a time sensitive task like calling my husband before he leaves work because we need milk, I make a note on an index card and immediately file it in my General Notes file. I clean out the General Notes file every week eliminating tasks or adding them to the master to do list I look at each day.

I file everything as soon as possible because my daughters are notorious for grabbing paper from my desk to draw on despite the fact they have a stack of paper in their art cabinet. My index cards, project folders and character sheets help me stay organized and provide quick retrieval of information.


At 8:18 PM, Blogger Ann said...

This is fantastic! I've had a lot of trouble making my characters' traits consistent through the story or book - this should be a great help.


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