3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Stories

I’m currently tying up loose ends in my two novels before I continue writing the third novel in the Shadow Knight Series. After being away from my second WIP – Mischief and Mayhem to tighten up the premise of the first novel – Secrets and Shadows, I’ve come across a problem.

I’m struggling to remember tiny details about the different realms. And as the series develops not only is the world-building expanding, but changes continuously evolve.

This is also true for my characters. Remembering eye and hair colour is easy enough. And I’m confident in remembering my MC traits and personality types. The trouble lies with minor characters. Plus changes in hairstyles and costumes in particular scenes are starting to become problematic.

So today I’m considering different methods to store all the relevant details for your stories.

pexels- ideas, pin-board, character files, novels, writing

  1. My good friend and creative writing tutor Judith Barrow is an advocate for the Pin-board Method. Above her desk, directly in line of sight, Judith uses notes and images to mind map her novels. A quick glance forward and all the information is to hand. Dates, Places and characters… whatever information deemed necessary.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

  1. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have a cosy desk. So, for the more technological-minded writers they can use apps compatible with their computer or tablet. Similar to the Pin-board Method, except all the information can be stored in one easy accessible space. Great if you’re a writer on the go, maybe you write in a cafe or at your work during your lunch break. Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. Why not try one of the following?

OneNote – Notepad Classic – Code Writer – Sticky Notes – Evernote Touch

maps-desk-notes writing novel ideas

3. My current method, The File System. Many authors love printable lists or a one page character summary. Where they can jot down character attributes, personality traits, fears, goals and flaws.

And they’re great to get the ball rolling, but I needed something a little more intricate. So I’ve been compiling information about individual characters. Copying descriptions and quirks from my novels and pasting them onto a document. These are then printed off and filed. So the next time I need to jog my memory about a setting or character, Instead of trawling through my novels using the find feature, I can flip open the relevant section of my folder and have instant access.

I’ve also discovered that by having bullet-point sections listing the descriptions, I can maintain continuity and eliminate plot holes.

Which of the three methods do you prefer? Or do you have another method? If so, why don’t you share it with me? You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love my people.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

14 thoughts on “3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Stories

  1. Awesome post as always hun. Because I use Scrivener, there is a built-in template (that I amended) for character profiles and location settings.

    I put my characters (including photo) in there and include everything I can think of from looks, personality, traits, mannerisms, allergies etc. Whatever crops up.

    For my trilogy Belle Mort (working title) (before I got Scrivener) I have several page profile for each character and also a detailed spreadsheet that held all the smaller info that I might need quickly (like handed-ness etc).

    As for world-building, when I create my worlds I have settings profile for each realm and land. I try and get that all sorted early on, but as things come to me when writing, I just pop over to the template in Scrivener and add to it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard of writers using Pinterest for their books, especially if you like to use actual people and places as inspiration for your characters, their clothing, and where they live. This can be fun for your readers as well, if you decide to share your inspiration board later on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Character worksheets are available from multiple sources. Some are quite detailed but can be filled out as little or as much as the author desires. They can be printed and filled out by hand or used on the computer.

    I have yet to use them but I can see where they would be useful. While writing my debut novel, The Rise of Kali, I struggled with details on even primary characters with simple things like spelling their names. At times I forgot names of tertiary characters.

    Just have to make myself start using them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just looking at those worksheets helped me develop my characters. They are fantastically detailed.

      Perhaps I should start using them too.

      How are your edits coming along? Is The Rise of Kali ready for republishing?


  4. Ooh, I’m going through this at the moment. I know that when I’m drafting a book, I cannot look at anything from another book (can’t edit, can’t plan, certainly can’t proofread) because I will get the worlds confused. Other than that, my memory is like a sieve, so I forget old characters anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this write up right now.

    I totally agree with you now on this:

    “””” Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. “””””

    Trying one of the following?

    Notepad Classic
    Code Writer
    Sticky Notes
    Evernote Touch

    There are very much important.
    I used note sometimes.

    A wonderful and interesting post.

    Enjoy. Happy sunday

    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve become rather fond of a single Word document for all the characters, one for the outlined plot, one for themes and motifs, and in some cases one for setting (if necessary). I really like the Control/Command F feature, and I like having all my character/personality info in one place.
    And I’ve recently fallen in love with the Headings feature, partly because it offers a very thorough range of tiers (though I’ve never really tested it beyond 5-6 levels), and the Navigation pane, which lays out the headings like a hierarchical table of contents.
    Granted, there may come a day where there are too many distinct sections for a single document to hold all the characters, but I do like the idea of “one place to look”.

    Liked by 1 person

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