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.



One comment

  1. 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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