Monday, January 30, 2017

This week on criminal minds we are answering the question: Do you use a story “bible” to keep track of characters, location, etc.

My answer in a nutshell? If only!

Every time I start a new book, I remind myself that while I was writing the last book I promised myself that when I was done I would go back through all my books and gather all my character and place names into one file along with short descriptions and what book they appeared in. Doesn’t that sound clever? Of course it does. So organized. So reasonable. But no, as soon as a book is finished, I forget my vow and go on about my business.

Instead, when I try to remember who, what, or when something happened, I have to open up a .pdf of the book I think the reference comes from and search with keywords until I find what I’m looking for. It’s not such a big problem with recurring characters. I remember who they are and what they did. The problem comes when I try to remember if I’ve a used a name before. Have I called someone Buddy, or Carl? Have I used the Busy Bee Beauty Salon in another book?

When I wrote my first two books, I diligently kept a list of names of people and places…or did I? Did I forget to add someone? Did I forget to write down the name of the local beauty shop, or cafe? I’ve never gone back to check.

I think of myself as organized, but in this instance I’m anything but organized. And there’s a reason for that. I have always relied on my memory. I do have a good memory, but with books, relying on my memory for one name in six books just doesn’t work.

I bought Scrivener somewhere along the line. But I forgot to use it. It seemed too structured for me. And now I wish I had taken the time to learn it. I have writer friends who swear by it, gushing that it’s so easy to find a scene or a name or an occurrence.

So why can’t I seem to convince myself that I’d be better off if I took the time and effort to put together a bible? Or paid someone else to do it? Or buckled down and learn Scrivener? I am afraid that at this point, I have let it go so long that I’ve given it up as a lost cause. (The same answer that keeps me from organizing my emails into proper folders.)

Sometimes I feel like the only way I’ll ever get a book “bible” is to start a new series. Will I do that? Stay tuned.

And if anyone has an idea of how to force myself to get it done, please let me know!


Susan Alice Bickford said...

I don't write series, so this isn't a problem :-) OK, I still need a mini cheat sheet even for the work in hand.

Susan C Shea said...

Your answer is exactly what mine would be!

Marilyn Schoon said...

You could always ask one of your friends to go through your six books and create a sortable spreadsheet sheet of names and places in exchange for free copies of upcoming books.

Marilyn Schoon said...

Oops . . . delete the redundant "sheet."