Thursday, December 4, 2014

Writing a series? Keep it organized!

with guest Leslie Ann Sartor.

Have you ever thought about writing a series? Then, I beg you, start your "bible" now.

Don't wait like me, until I finished the first book and realized by the not-so-gentle nudging of a great friend, our own Audra Harders, that I had a series on my hands.

Worse, I have TWO series I'm working on and will start a cozy mystery series in 2016. Take pity on me now, please, or pray. It's going to be a crazy ride.

But now I know I'll start my cozy bible from the get go, the other two I have to build in the midst of writing the current novel which feels a bit daunting, but is crucial.

So just what is a series "bible"?

It's the document that is going to keep you from tearing out your hair.  



It's not only going to remind you of your character's eye and hair color, the dimple in his LEFT cheek and the tattoo on her RIGHT wrist. It's what we call in the film biz, continuity. It's making sure that not only do you have the house on the same side of the block, but you have the street name correct and the color of the car consistent. Nothing ruins a film faster for me or makes me close a book, perhaps never to open it again, by inattention to details.

BUT, there are more than physical aspects that need to be kept consistent -- deeper, more complex issues. I promise you these details, and others you come up with, will help build your story faster and keep correct the traits readers loved in the first place.

So let's dig in a little deeper. Here are some ideas to make notes about:
·         Endearments and how they're said. Darling or darlin'.
·         How does your character get mad? What is their hot button? (One of Reid Hunter's is anyone questioning his loyalty--he doesn't get mad, he retreats, the heck with them. But deep inside he's hurt.)
·         Do they drive fast? Irritatingly slow? (Brice Young—slow which frustrates Jennifer Malone who has a fast car and likes to drive it that way.)
·         What are their beliefs and what forces your character to reveal them?
·         What is the name of the boat or whatever—cottage, car, dog, cat, etc.? (This also makes sure you spell it the same throughout the books.)
·         Create a map of the area so X store is always next to Y store. And the house across the street is a red gingerbready style, not a Craftsmen bungalow.
·         Note landmarks that are used or could be used.
·         What are the characters' lineages? Don't want to blow that one. Keep a family tree going.
·         Save pictures that intrigued you about the story. Don't try and find them again. The internet is fickle. And if you cut them from a magazine, scan them in or take a photo.
·         Research sites. I have a ton, all in my files. And if something is important, I copy and paste the info. Some of those sites have moved much to my dismay.

Have I lost you yet?

I'm hoping your next question is…where do I put all this information? That is exactly your question? I have a few answers.

This part is actually really fun, it's like creating a detailed scrapbook.

I have a friend who literally makes scrapbooks with everything in them. All her notes, pictures, snippets of dialogue from experts talking…everything. I've seen them and I'm a bit—okay, a lot—envious. They're not those fancy 12x12 scrapbooks -- she uses composition books or notebooks, something that will hold a lot of stuff.

Some folks use Evernote to take "clippings" of their research. I like that idea. You can paste them anywhere.

Another great idea, and one I once used for all my research so it was in one place, is OneNote in the Microsoft Suite of programs. It's a one stop folder. Everything in one place.

What I'm using now is Scrivener. I'm creating a new binder just for this information. Because a lot of it is already in Scrivener, I can copy the folder and move it to the new binder, then add as a re-read my books and find what I need.

Friends don't let this happen to friends. That's why I'm writing this post!

What's most important is that you do what works for you. If you're super detailed and not messy, you'll find a method for you. If you're crafty you might use the notebook method. (It's tactile as well). But whichever method you use, it has to be simple to get to the information, or I doubt you'll use it much.

What do you think should be included?

And what method do you think you'd use?

I'm offering two Kindle copies of my latest book ForeverYours This New Year's Night to a couple of lucky commenters. (Please note this is a sweet romance, not an inspy)

Jennifer Malone Can't Believe What's Happening To Her
How dare he? Granted she's far from home, dining alone on Christmas Eve. But that doesn't give Major Brice Young—the cocky man who'd out-experted her on a big cyber forensics case months ago—the right to invite himself to her table and then do what he did.
Brice Young Can't Believe He Did What He Just Did
Stupid move. Brice needs Jennifer Malone to be the beta tester of his new cyber defense program and he bet he'd just ruined his chances. Why on earth did he come here at all, let alone do what he just did? Would Jen still show up at tomorrow's meeting and agree to work with him on testing his new system?
Can Two Prior Adversaries Work Together?
Getting Jen to test his new system is Brice's priority until he discovers she is so much more than the icy cyber geek she portrays to the world. Jen fights to keep her distance, despite Brice's undeniable charm. There is no way she ever mixes business with pleasure, especially with a recently divorced man…or can magic happen on this New Year's Night?


Leslie Ann Sartor (aka L.A.Sartor) began telling stories around the age of 4 when her mother, at Leslie’s insistence, wrote them down and Leslie illustrated them.  As an adult she writes suspense and action adventure novels with a dash of romance, and screenplays—she's had a contracted adaptation!  She lives in Colorado with her husband whom she met on a blind date.  Leslie loves to travel and thinks life is an adventure and we should embrace the journey.  She has a blog and a mailing list.


AND, there's more...


Along with Leslie's generous gifts, there will be a couple more.

We'll be giving away winner's choice of one of these holiday books (e-version)!

Check the WE on Saturday to see if it's YOU!!

94 comments:

Jackie said...

Welcome to Seekerville, and thanks for sharing these great ideas. I'll take your advice.

Wilani Wahl said...

Welcome to Seekerville!

What a great post so much to consider!

Keli Gwyn said...

Great tips, Leslie. Keeping all the facts straight in a single book can be tough. I can't imagine keeping everything consistent in a series without creating lots of lists.

Titi Funtó said...

These were really helpful tips. Thank you Leslie!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good Morning, Leslie! I'm just starting a new series, so have been filling a binder with maps, photos of the locale and characters, and writing mini-bios of main and secondary characters. So much to think about! Thank you for the great tips!

Kelly Bridgewater said...

Good tips, Leslie! I'm finishing the first book in a series, and I didn't write any of that down. Plotting loosely my second book, I already know I have to look up things from the first one. Thanks!

Becky said...

Good reminder that I need to do this! I hadn't thought about using actual pictures to inspire/stand for places in the book. I just used the picture in my head!

Rose said...

Great advice, Leslie!

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks Leslie! I learned the hard way to keep pertinent information written down—at first I actually thought I'd remember all that!!

Yeah, I hear the laughter...

I keep a 'Notes File' on my computer desk top ( with the manuscript title ) and when I write something I know I may need later, I open the file and add the info.I can quickly drag images into the file when I need to.
This file stays in the same spot always. It has save me more than once!:-)

Audra Harders said...

Morning, Leslie! Thanks for the great tips on staying organized. Ha, you know better than most that I fly by the seat of my pants on single titles and series. I need to get into the habit of making notes all in one place rather than sticky notes that get scattered all over my office.

Great organizational tip headed into the new year!!!

Audra Harders said...

Keli, I'm with you. Lists save my sanity, but it's keeping them all in one place that throws me for a loop!

Connie Queen said...

Ha. I need to do this with just one book! When I decide to change something like a name (secondary characters), more than once, I will forget and revert back to the original name. The last ms I submitted to an editor I found a couple of places where he had different names...after I hit send.

Thanks so much for the advice. Make perfect sense.

Audra Harders said...

Glynna, I know you're organized and prioritized (and every other -ized I can think of) to the hilt! The books in your series are so consistent it seems like you've written out the entire story line in one big manuscript and then cut it into pieces!

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Thank you for this centralized idea for book details! I'm finishing my first of perhaps 10 in a series so this will be great, and looking at the picture perhaps I'll keep my hair :). I write tween fantasy, and many of my names are based on Swedish influence so I also have a document where I put the translation from which I drew the name, in case anyone ever asks. I'm trying to layer in meaning beyond the first pass.

Audra Harders said...

Kelly, I write everything loosely, LOL! The problem is gathering up the ends that might have gotten thrown away. Start writing stuff down in one place, you'll be thankful later down the road!

Glynna Kaye said...

AUDRA -- IN MY DREAMS! That first book was picked up by Love Inspired as the results of a contest win, so I hadn't even given much thought at that point to subsequent stories, let alone SIX MORE! So it was a pretty wild ride. :) Hoping to be more organized from the get-go on this next one!

Just finished book #1 of the new series and sent it off on Monday, so it's now time to clean up my office and get the art fact sheet images selected for cover idea submission. Then reorganize my Word docs and binder for the series, THEN off to write the full proposal for the next one!

I see where the third in YOUR series will be coming out after the first of the year. Can hardly wait!

Jackie Smith said...

Great Post! Lists, lists.....I can't imagine how you great authors do it! I am a reader, but do depend on lists, too!
Count me in for your great sounding book...and the Seekerville holiday book, too!
Thanks!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Leslie, Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing all that great information.

You're braver than I. I doubt I'd ever try a series. That is so awesome.

Thanks again and thanks for all the gifts you and Audra are offering.

Have fun today.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I have a much more important question. I have known Leslie Ann since my first Colorado Romance Writers meeting in 1993. She was chapter treasurer.

Why does she keep getting younger and I keep getting older????

Tina Radcliffe said...

Great, great tips, Leslie. I created an Excel spread sheet Series Bible recently when I realized this was an issue. And you are correct. It is a big deal.

Thanks for sharing.

Carolyne Aarsen said...

Great post! I've struggle my way through continuity elements in series and I'm a Scrivener Groupie! It is super helpful to keep everything right at your fingertips. Another thing I would really recommend is making a timeline and plug in events from characters' past and on top of that a calendar for the book itself. Doesn't need to be fancy, just a grid 7 wide and as far down as you need. I can't tell you how many times I've had 4 day weeks or 8. The timeline and calendar have saved my bacon many a time. As well, in Scrivener, I also have put for the scene descriptor, the day of the week it takes place. Again, so I can see at a glance what is happening where. It took me awhile to figure Scrivener out. Gwen Hernandez has a couple of very good courses on Scrivener. It was well worth the time. Scrivener is a huge time saver. Thanks for a great post, Leslie!

Marianne Barkman said...

When you read the novels as they come out, it may.not be as noticeable, but when you go back and read them all as one it's rather disconcerting to have someone who died in book 3 to show up for a visit in book 4 and this is not a paranormal or time travel series. Only because when a friend do I continue to buy her books, or maybe because it's only happened once. I love to be in the winners circle this week. Thanks for a great post!

Sa'dora said...

Hi Leslie,
Thanks for the great information. I'm working on 2 series and have loose notes everywhere. I finally put them in a folder, but I like the idea of scrapbook pages.

There's one additional item I include, I think I go it from Randy Ingermanson. He said to add "How do others see the character?"

Thanks for your helpful tips.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Leslie ... where were you 11 books ago when I reallllllly needed this post???

Actually, I STILL need it, which is sad, I suppose, but I prefer to think of this excellent post as further refining or fine-tuning of a pretty darn antiquated system of my own (ahem ... like's owner).

It took me a while to wise up (uh, my THIRD series), but now I create an extensive NOTES doc that has pix and details of everything -- ages chart, special dates, timeline, chapter-by-chapter outline, celebrity lookalike pix, house pix, room pix, you name it, along with TONS of links on facts I need to know.

It's a pretty hodge-podge system, I suppose, but it works for me. Mostly ... ;)

Great post and a big hug to Audra for hosting you!

Hugs,
Julie

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Good morning! I'm in cloudy New Mexico, visiting my 91-year young mom and brother.

I'm so happy to be back with Seekerville, you guys are my favs.

And thanks to Miss Audra for inviting me.

Off to read comments. See you in a bit
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Connie,
I've done the same thing, changing a name and not being consistent. Thankfully I have eagle eyed beta readers. I'd have hated for that to go out to my readers like that. Super embarrassing.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Jackie and Wilani,
Thanks for visiting today. Glad the post was helpful.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Keli and Titi,
It is hard to keep it all straight, and I thought I'd remember it all, after all it came from my brain and heart.
Nope.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey Glynna,
I'm so glad you're ahead of the curve. I know it'll serve you well.

You say binder, as in physical? So you're one that likes the tactile? do you decorate your pages at all, or is it straight facts and research?
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Kelly,
Yup, that's what I'm doing and honestly it's really a time waster. Although sometimes I surprise myself with my own writing:)

And sometimes it's good to remind myself of the tone of the series.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Becky and Rose,
I think have real images often give you nuances that you couldn't have foreseen, like roses that wind up the trellis off the bedroom's window and the scent from them. Or the thorns.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Mary, I know exactly what you mean. I too thought I'd remember it.

No laughing you all.

Great idea that your notebook is in a permanent place on your desktop.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Good morning Miss Audra,

I'm going to build notebooks in Scrivener, using the chapters for characters and places, with the scenes for details.

That way they will always be at my fingertips. Try it and tell me how you like it.

xo
L

Debby Giusti said...

Great suggestions, Leslie!

Thanks for being with us in Seekerville today.

I'm starting a new book in my Military Investigations series and need to check some details from the earlier books. Having everything in a bible makes it so much easier.

Hugs!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Elizabeth,
WOW 10 books in a series!!

I read Twilight, wanting to see what all the hubbub was about and a few things always stuck with me. That's because those things were consistent throughout and I grew to expect that.

Other things were jarringly not when they should have been.

You are a brave soul, still shaking my head over 10 books.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Jackie,
I know, lists ad nauseum. But it will keep us sane...Audra...right!

Glad you're with us today. I'm starving, did anyone bring Christmas yummies?

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Sandra,
You're way too sweet. You can do anything, I know that!!

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Tina,
I just spit out my coffee!! Now I have to clean up my computer.

Younger? My goodness, I think I love you.

I'll attribute it to writing, and my hairdresser who keeps me from showing my gray hair, earned by NOT writing a series bible.

WOW 1993 eh? Gulp. But how cool, it's been an interesting ride, eh?

xo
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Carolyn,
Time line and calendar are great ideas.

I use Scrivener's Scapple for creating a time line for the chapters and for each major scene so I can see that it's impossible for that "big" scene to happen that fast or it's at night etc.

That works, BUT my only complaint is that I can't see it all at once on my laptop which is where I do all my writing. Then edit on my PC.

A table grid sounds like it might work.

I love Scrivener as well, and Gwen's classes are awesome.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Marianne,
Welcome. Yes I know exactly what you mean. It's kills the story or the movie for me. Just ruins it.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Sa'dora,
Great idea! And since you got my brain going, how they've changed either in their own eyes or others.

Scrapbooks are fun, and I wish I had the time to do them for the book b/c I'm a tactile person. I do try to do them for vacations and milestones for my writing...but I'm WAYYYY behind.

Thanks for the tip.
Hugs
L

Sally Shupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam Hillman said...

I would love to say I am proactive and do all this first, and it's all in a neat, tidy, organized spot for second series, but no.

Sometimes I have to actually make the mistake of not making enough notes to realize what notes I need. lol Hope that made sense!

I do have Scrivener and really, really need to learn how to use it to my advantage.

One thing I do is keep a character chart in excel. I keep it open while I'm writing. Every character who is named, regardless of how small a part they play, is recorded, even in proposals that are still waiting in the wings.

Not only does this help me when I start to write the second book in a series, it keeps me from giving a major character the same name more than once. That might be okay if a few years separated the releases, but... last year, I had a proposal out for a novella and the heroine was named Lucy. I guess I had Lucy on the brain and I popped that name in as a secondary character in a novella that had already been contracted.

Then the first Lucy's story got contracted, and then there was the opportunity for the 2nd Lucy to have her story told, and HER name was already in the first book of the other series. And, both books come out in 2015. lol Confused yet?

Luckily, I caught it early on and with my editor's permission, changed the 2nd Lucy's name.

I already had a character spreadsheet, but had gotten lax about keeping the most minor characters' up to date. Since then, I've been much more careful about recording my character names.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Julie!!
What is it with you Seekerville women, again coffee spewed from my lips to the computer. Gee, thanks.

Your system sounds great. I'm printing out your post to add things like celebrity look alikes. Wouldn't that be an interesting call back in a book.

I love being on Seekerville, it's always a joy to be asked by Audra to be here. I think we're hosting a couple of hours for the New Year Celebration as well.

Hugs, and thanks!!
L

Sally Shupe said...

Thanks so much for this great post! Never really thought much about where all this information for books was stored. I like to write everything down, but then it isn't organized. I liked your comment about keeping the spelling the same. I've come across books where it is inconsistent. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Debby,
Hi! I had some military facts I needed to pin down for Forever Yours This New Year's Night, and I ended up clipping the page of info I needed with Evernote, then taking that note and pasting it in my research file.

WHICH will now go in my bible. I may never need it again...but then again, why tempt fate?

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Pammie,
I followed you all the way through :)

Yes, I get lax and that has hurt me more than once and I've had to spend hours, HOURS finding my data again only to find the site has moved or was taken down.

It's hard enough to find the time to write, let alone waste time going back to recreate research.

Hugs
L

Lyndee H said...

Hi Leslie,
Thanks for sharing your organizational methods. I've never heard a reference guide referred to as a bible, but they can certainly become as large and complex as a Bible!

I'm into bound composition notebooks. I stock up on them each fall when school supplies are cheap. I buy four for each book I'm writing and I coordinate the color. Currently,I'm using pink notebooks and I not only lay out my plan there, but I also staple things on the pages, etc. and I mark the different places using sticky tabs.

I guess that says I'm old fashioned, but if I had to depend on computer storage/organization, I probably wouldn't write anymore. That computer thing is a love/hate relationship, lol.

Mary Connealy said...

The two books in the Seekers Hope for the Holidays Collections were series writing to an exponential level.
The children of the characters from several different books meeting and, in one case, falling in love.
I'm so confused by it all, what really trips me up is ages. It's sort of funny.
Daniel Reeves had five sons when Grace married him.
They've had a bunch more since. To make ages match I had one of their unborn sons be the love interest in some novella I've written. I think it's the 12 Brides of Summer collection coming next summer.
I had typed up lists at the top of the book document figuring out ages of unborn children, naming them. I went with the 12 tribes of Israel for names and used them in Hope for the Holidays Historical as well as whatever the 12 Brides book is called.
I think.

But these characters are so real to me.

I've got a novella coming from Bethany with one character from the Trouble in Texas series finding and marrying the little sister of Audra Kincaid from the Kincaid Brides series.

And she's got a little brother who is mentions ONCE in the whole Kincaid Brides series and I could NOT remember his name or age, I just knew he existed. I had to read that whole series again to find him. And I'd never named Audra's parents, or given her maiden name, because the story starts with her being married.

So to find out it WASN'T a name I'd used took forever because I had to be sure.

So yeah, series. It gets complicated. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for the excellent tips, Leslie! I'm a Scrivener convert, too. I love how I can search for information online and then just pull the web page right into my research folder!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Sally,
So glad you're with us today. Yep, I've done that, and caught it. Again, don't want that to stop a reader. Ugh.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Lyndee,
Not old fashioned, tactile. I'd love to create real books of info. I like your color idea.

Hugs
L

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Leslie Ann. Thanks for the informative post on keeping vital information for a series organized.

One tip I really appreciate: take pictures of magazine photos. I have a notebook of potential heroes and heroines torn from magazines years ago that have been languishing. Obviously Scrivener is beyond me.

Janet

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This is a great follow-up to Arlene James' post about being the last book of a continuity yesterday and how everything had to be planned so we didn't trip each other up!

Leslie! Thank you for being here today, oh the joys of series writing, I love them, love them, love them!!!

For my Double S Ranch series (Waterbrook, 2015) I did a map like Val did for Jasper Gulch and I charted out ranches and farms, too...

And then studied the climate changes because for every mile East you go, you lose an inch of rainfall... so I had to nestle my ranch where water might be an issue... but not a desert!

Leslie this is awesome, thank you! I brought thumbprint cookies to go with the coffee.... and I might take pity on the gang of us and come back with shrimp salad and chicken salad! How fun would that be?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I like Sa'dora's question....

"How do others see your character?"

That's important because their opinion will shade the reader's opinion. If they see the grumpy curmudgeon's good side... then we know he has one and we'll let the author unravel his tale of woe!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, those pioneer types with a dozen+ kids sure do make for long-winded, winding series!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Leslie,
This is such great timing for me. I'm finishing book 2 of my Irish Meadows series and I have the beginnings of book 2 in a contemporary series. Boy, do I need to take your advice! Excel spreadsheets do not work for me, but I love the idea of a scrapbook. Maybe that will be my project for the holidays!
Thanks so much!
Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Susan Anne Mason said...

P.S. I'm seriously addicted to Pinterest and love 'scrapbooking' pictures of my books there!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Janet,
Thanks for the welcome. I too have pictures languishing, I pulled some out the other day and almost split my pants laughing at the styles they were wearing. But I did find Pierce Brosan young and oh so handsome in a timeless tux. Sigh.

hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Ruth,
That's really interesting about climate changes in the area you were writing about.

Another great "bible" item.

I'll go back and read Arlene's post.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Susan,
So glad you're here with us. Spread sheets don't really work for me either, I can't figure them out well, except for budgets :)

Pinterest is a great idea for posting ideas. I think starting a scrapbook is a great holiday idea.

Grab a cup of cocoa, put on some music and have fun.

Now that has me wanting to pull out my scissors.
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Myra,
Isn't that incredible about Scrivener?

I can't wait until their mobile app is out. Then I can truly write and fill my bible anywhere. Snap a pix with my Ipad and add it, how simple is that?

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi All,
It's come up once or twice, how the name of this document came to be a bible.

I asked a couple of people in the screenwriting biz and they said it's because it was their go-to document.

Much like the bible :)

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Mary, your post made me laugh. Yes, series can get so complicated. And yes, rereading the entire series...so been there. And sadly still am, b/c I'm just starting my bibles. My holiday project.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Ymmmm, those thumbprint cookies hit the spot. Shrimp....really? YUM.

I tried to make some cinnamon bread, but it was a total fail. Not used to mom's oven.

So you all, bring on the goodies.

xo
L

Cara Lynn James said...

This is a keeper! I'm really awful at keeping my facts straight, so this should help.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Thanks Cara Lynn, that is always a great thing to hear from another author.

I hope it really does help. It will be interesting to hear what method you're thinking of using, then actually use.
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Thanks Cara Lynn, that is always a great thing to hear from another author.

I hope it really does help. It will be interesting to hear what method you're thinking of using, then actually use.
Hugs
L

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

I'm using Pinterest, too and it's so helpful when I need to refine the description of a location, home, or even a flower. I was using photos taped up on butcher block paper rolls earlier in the process, which kept me going and my children loved watching the characters, locations and descriptions evolve there. Pinterest is a lot neater, though!

Kav said...

Wow -- I never thought about all those aspects of keeping continuity in a series. That's a lot of detail!!!!

Love the scrapbook idea because I'm visual and tactile and I think I'd use it for a standalone book too. Nice way to keep tabs on characters and settings. And I like Elizabeth's idea of Pinterest. Visual organization makes me happy!

Good luck with your cozy mysteries. I love cozy mysteries -- but the mystery adds on a whole new angst to the keeping track of things angle, doesn't it?

The Artist Librarian said...

I echo the "save everything" you find on the internet. I used to use images online as references for drawing and if you don't save them when you find them, sometimes it's hard to locate them again, even if you use the same search terms and the same search engine!

I've seen authors use Pinterest besides One Note, Scrivener, or physical notes you mentioned. =)

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey Elizabeth,
That's really interesting that your kids loved watching the process. Any of them wanting to become writers?

Hugs
L

DebH said...

Great post Leslie. Having done some film work, I'm familiar with the bible term. I think it is an awesome tool. I have folders on my computer where I put reference materials per story idea. I've even started clipping articles and the like, just in case I can't find that great pic or reference. I found a great photo once and thought, "I'll just search for it again later with the same terms." Alas... great reference photo is gone, gone, gone :(

would love my name in the draw for your book. who does your covers? as a graphic artist, i'm always curious and like to visit cover designer's websites to see how they set things up. my dream is to be able to create covers for people as a side "cottage" industry for my family.

Amanda Cabot said...

Leslie, thanks for the great ideas. I have to admit that I don't use all of them, but I keep charts of characters' physical traits, nicknames, parents and pets' names, etc. In addition to those, I find maps of my locations invaluable. Even with them and all the careful proofreading that goes on, the woman who translated one of my books into German found a spot where I had a character turn right instead of left. Oh, well ...

Jane said...

Wonderful blog. Once more, you are amazing!

Valri said...

Welcome, Leslie! Great post! I'm a reader, not a writer but I love reading all these things that writers use to see what goes into writing a book! Thanks for the info! Happy holidays and good luck keeping everything straight!

Valri

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Leslie! Thanks for sharing. As someone who is writing what she hopes will turn into a series, I understand exactly what you are talking about (I also use Scrivener to keep track of details!). It's great to be able to flip back in the binder to remember a certain character's eye color, than trying to find it in pages and pages of notes!

Please don't include me in the drawing, as I do not have an e-reader. Have a wonderful day, and a blessed holiday season!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Deb,
Yes, the gone, gone, gone is a stomach plummet-er. Horrible feeling.

I do my covers now. I'm a tad bit of a perfectionist, so really like the control.

It can be a great cottage industry, the Indie Market is booming.

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Kav,
Yup, I'd love to do the tactile scrapbooking thing...I just know my time is too limited and I'm "retired" so isn't that a hoot.

Yes, even for a stand alone book, it's important to keep your details at hand.

Thanks for the best wishes on the cozy series. I hope I can come back to Seekerville and talk about it. I'm excited about starting it.
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Amanda,
Thanks for stopping by. OMgoodness, the woman who translated for you found it?

Even with all the proofing, and read-throughs and editors, it can happen.

xo
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Jane,
And once again, you're way too sweet. It was a fun blog to write.

Hugs
L

Sandy Smith said...

So many great giveaways. Love the cover of your book, Leslie. I like the idea of the New Year's Eve theme, too. I also would love to win any of the holiday books, so please enter me into the drawing.

I am more old school in my organizing and like notebooks. But I would like to try other methods. I have One Note but don't know what to do with it.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey Valeri,
Without you we'd be nothing :) Thanks for stopping by. I think the insights that writers have, the gifts of observation is always fascinating.
Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Stephanie,
I so glad you're with us today. Honestly, I've spent hours trying to find the detail I need. It's such a time waster.

And I'm trying to relearn playing the piano :)

Hugs to you,
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi The Artist Librarian,
Yes, sites move, and searches are fickle much to my great dismay. I have literally yowled out loud and my husband came running....

Hugs
L

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Sandy,
Thanks for the kind words on the cover, and New Year's was an inspiration. I wanted to book to closely follow in time the first book in the series, Be Mine This Christmas Night.

OneNote has video help, it's a great program. It's as close to creating a virtual notebook as I've come, other than Scrivener, which is the writing program.

Give OneNote a try.
Hugs
L

Becke said...

Thanks for the "dig deeper". You added a few items that I don't have in my bible.

I create an electronic folder for my books. My character profile form was created to allow photo inserts.

My vulnerability is with dates and ages. I find it better to list a character's birthdate so I remember to age him.
b

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Becke,
You're so right. I put in a birth date as well, then I can count backwards to make sure progeny ages make sense.

Happy to see you here.
Hugs
L

marilyn leach said...

LA, enjoyed your article and info. My system isn't as sophisticated as yours, but for my Berdie series I have maps, character files, ages of characters as each book in the series moves on, all that. Love writing a series.

Rachael Koppendrayer said...

One of my husband's favorite authors has shamelessly admitted to using Wikipedia to keep track of all the details in his currently 13-working-to-23-or-some-such-number book series. Apparently fans are better at keeping track of details than he is . . . But I'm not sure that Wikipedia could replace solid personal notes and dossiers. Plus my old college professors would smite me where I stand were I ever to rely on its accuracy . . .

angelakcouch.com said...

Great thoughts! Thankfully I haven't had any of my series remain in the same geographical area, which saves a lot of what needs to be remembered, but for the everything else I love keeping a doc. in the same file as the story. I sure have been loving Pinterest as well :)

TheNewKaren said...

If the book I am currently working on comes together, I hope to have it be part of a 7 book series. Something told me from the start that I would need to keep elaborate notes on each place and character.
I am also using Scrivener for the first time on a major project and have set up a folder for various topics in the research area along with a document for each character and each place to jot things down in while I am writing. I even went so far as to try to find photos of what I imagine each character looks like to add to the character files so I can look at them as I write. I did the same thing with 2 houses in the story so far. One was meant to be run down and needing fixed up and I found one for sale online with tons of photos that I could look through and then write about the repairs that needed to be made. It really helps me to visualize what I am writing about.
This is a great topic to discuss and very helpful.

TheNewKaren said...

Pam,
Do you have samples of these character charts that we could see online somewhere? I am good at creating all sorts of forms and such in Excel and would love to be able to use it this way, but am having trouble visualizing what this sort of chart would look like.

Thanks,
Karen

Pam Hillman said...
One thing I do is keep a character chart in excel. I keep it open while I'm writing. Every character who is named, regardless of how small a part they play, is recorded, even in proposals that are still waiting in the wings.

Rogenna Brewer said...

Oh, my goodness. I don't even know where I'd start. I have whole series written without bibles. But I do find it a pain to be skimming my books for details now that I'm going back and trying to add stories for secondary characters :)

Good idea.