Back into the forest

This one is for the writers. Or anyone more organized than me, I guess. I’m in a bit of a quandary. I seem to be having an affair on The Girls Nobody Wanted to Date. I’m 35,000 words into it, which means I’m more than halfway done since it’s a young adult novel. But the werewolves have called me back to the forest. All weekend I’ve been switching between Girls and Nadia’s Children, the new Werewolf Saga book. I will literary end a sentence in one manuscript and go to the other one. I have never had success working on two major projects, but right now neither seems to be suffering, probably because they are very, very different. I know some of you do multiple books at a time. How do you do it?

Here’s the bigger thing, though. I’m having a heck of a time keeping my characters straight. Girls has been such a long project, put on hold for the super secret project and ignored for the day job, etc., that I’ve simply forgotten some of the characters’ names. With The Werewolf Saga, there are just so freakin’ many names to remember now that I’m up to the fifth book, that I can’t keep them all straight. How do you do it? I would like to create a database where I could search by various criteria, but I have no idea how to create that. When I wrote Shara I kept a handwritten list of characters for reference, but I didn’t do that with Ulrik and now I’m really wishing I had. Any suggestions for keeping all these people organized for easy recall?

For those interested, I’ve only done about 6,000 words of Nadia’s Children. Two new characters have been introduced, but one of those was already killed. He was like a Star Trek character in the Red Shirt of Death.

3 responses to “Back into the forest”

  1. So, for the world in which I have multiple stories set (and therefore a 70ish year time-line) I actually have a spreadsheet wherein I list names, DOB, some basic traits like hair and eye color, personality type, if I’ve thought that hard. That keeps me form having a character show up with brown eyes in one story and grey eyes the next.
    Since it’s a long time line, I also watch the DOBs pretty carefully, so I know exactly how old everyone is when.
    I haven’t done this in other places, although I have a couple of random ‘time-line’ files and other ‘data’ files (like what color facing on a uniform indicates what garrison, or what certian trim means). I keep each in the folder on my desktop with that particular batch of stories. A lot of random little word docs.

  2. YMMV
    Writing very, very different projects at the same time is the best way to work multiple stories, I think. I’ve found it goes best, anyway.
    You may need to start by reading the previous chapter or so to yourself, just to get back into the headspace, which may help you with the characters. That’s sometimes necessary for me. If not…I go flipping back to whatever scene the character was in previously, to find what their name was. >.< (Only need to do this for very minor characters, though…)
    I don’t know much about your usual process, so I wouldn’t declare this will work for you, but that’s how I handle it.

  3. I usually can’t work on more than one at the same time, but I do often (too often) put aside an unfinished project to start or pick up another one.
    The werewolves have been calling me back, too. I finished a rough draft of a new werewolf novel recently and am polishing it up now. SLASHING features a big-city setting.

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