Sunday, August 30, 2015

It's the little things

In writing, as in life, it's often the little things that mean the most. When you're writing a series, it can be difficult to keep track of all the details you’ve already included in previous books. It's important to get "the little things" right because it can be disconcerting to readers to find that you've made a mistake on even a minor detail. We want our readers to trust us so we need to make sure we "get it right." So how do writers do it?

I can only speak for myself. Let me first say that I am a list maker. I’m a firm believer in writing down everything that I need to remember as opposed to storing it loosely in my head. I detest the “What is it I’m forgetting?” feeling and I try to avoid it at all costs. So, I make lists for everything! Groceries and miscellaneous items that I need to buy, appointments, errands, phone calls I want to return; you name it, I write it down.

As I began to write my second novel, I found myself having to constantly go back into my first book to check on various details. It was beginning to get on my nerves and I realized what the problem was; I needed a plan, a list. So, I developed Characters and Chronology, an outline of “facts” that I needed to remember. 

I started with my main character, Ann, and listed her physical description, her age and important events in her life which I had mentioned in Mixed Messages. I then went on do the same with each character. Eventually, I expanded the outline to include the “new” characters in my second novel, Unfinished Business. As I wrote Desperate Deeds and Mistaken Identity, I added that information to my list too. 

Now, as I work on plotting the fifth novel for my Malone Mystery series, I have all of the "facts" I need to create my chapter by chapter outline and then to proceed to write the book, which makes me very glad that I took the time to jot everything down. 

Are you a list maker?