It should come to no one’s surprise that there is more to writing a story then putting words down on paper. There are a lot of details that we have to hold onto and some details slip right through our fingers. So, how do I hold all of the moving parts in my head?
Easy. I don’t. I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone what color I gave a character’s eyes when I wrote them last month. Hell, sometimes even a character’s NAME escapse me. (After 18 books that feels moderately forgivable.) So, how do I keep track of all the details?
I use “book bibles” filled with worksheets I’ve made/researched over the years to hold all of the details together (and still, I forget stuff.) It holds stuff like:
- Theme (What’s the lesson you want your MC to learn in this book?)
- Hero’s problem/want/need (What problem does the MC have at the start of the book. What do they want that they THINK will make them happy. What is it that they actually NEED to reach the theme/lesson?
- Character Profiles Basic stuff like job, family, age, looks, quirks, flaws, horiscope sign, etc. I’ll use images from Google and paste in a person who matches close enough that I can refer back to when describing the characters
- The Outline A beat by beat play down of what the story arc will be.
- Time and Space More Google images or terrible hand drawn sketches of locations and printable calanders for the month(s)/year the story takes place in. Time is something I have a hard time holding onto in the details, even WITH a print out.
- A Family Tree It’s hard enough to remember a MC let alone the sibling or parent details of them!
If the book is a trilogy or a series, I’ll have a few other addtional bits in there as well. Such as;
- Series Details Is this going to be a serial series (must read the books in order) or a regular series (books are lined by characters/locations but each book can be read on its own.)
- Branding/Vision Basics How many books will there be? What titles will you use? What tropes are you lifting up? What is the genre and heat level for the series?
- One Page Outline If writing a series, before I begin the first book, I’ll do a one page mile-high look at what the crux of each book will focus on so that I have an idea of where it’s going.
Even WITH all of this, I still forget stuff. Hey, it happens. But at least this helps me hold on to most of it. And at the end of the day, that’s the best I can ask for.
If you want to hear more about this, author Marianne Morea and I dive a little deeper into the topic on our Bound By Books Podcast. You can watch that below.
Until next time, keep those pencils sharp!
Danielle/Dani Bannister author and keeper of all the details