Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Whatever You Do as a Writer, Make Lots of Notes!

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. While editing one of my first published stories I discovered I’d changed the spelling of one of the main character’s names. Fortunately I caught the error before it went to print, but it was close. Then there is the case where I’ve forgotten the color of a character’s eyes or hair. Do you want to have to re-read your entire manuscript to find out what you originally said? Make notes!

Now I set up a file for each novel as I go along. Because I’m not a plotter, I don’t start off with loads of details on the characters or the story I’m writing. My “notes” file contains things like a list of characters, locations, maybe even some hints on where I’m going. As I describe the character, whether it is physical, mode of dress, speech patterns, I add these to the file under their name. When I create my fantasy world, I make notes under a separate section each time a country, city, mountain or the like gets created. I have been known to draw a map of the countryside, or the castle, so I know which way we are going. When I forget a spelling, or am not certain, I go back to my notes. The description and spelling in the note is what I consider as gospel.

This becomes particularly important when your publisher asks for a sequel. Given the choice of making notes, or having to re-read the original novel to find out the name of an inn where the hero met the heroine, I know which route I’d choose. Sometimes you plan to create a series when you start out, sometimes you are faced with turning what you thought was a stand-alone novel into a trilogy. When you finish a manuscript it is a good idea to write down any ideas you might have about: “What happens next?” It gives you a head start.

What form the notes can take is up to you under the: “what works best for you” philosophy. I use a separate Word file so I can call it up and refer to it while I am working. Some people like paper or card files. The format doesn’t matter as long as it works for you.


The Dark Lady, Dark Days, Dark Knights (a trilogy)
The Queen’s Pawn, The Queen’s Man, (The Queen’s Game in 2016/17) (a trilogy)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (in 2016) (Toltec Khan in 2016/17) (Vol 3 is a work in progress)(a trilogy)

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