How in the world do we find the time to do things? All told, 11 hours of my day is involved with getting ready for work, driving to or from work or being at work. That leaves 4-5 hours of personal time a day. Subtract 1 hour for dinner cooking and recovering from work. If I'm being a good boy, subtract another hour for exercise. That leaves 2-3 hours a day. Now, I'm usually pretty wiped by the time everything else is done. But I do spend another 1-2 hours working on the site, answering emails and the like. Now this leaves me with 0-1 hour of free time. Writing time, I guess. That usually gets spent on reading. People wonder why it's taking me so long to write things. It's because, if I'm lucky, I get an hour a day to even attempt to write. Plus weekends, which are generally chock full of family things and other activities that I couldn't get to during the week.I've pretty much stopped watching TV, at least live. I DVR/Tivo ER and Enterprise. I generally watch both on the weekends. I watch Fox News during dinner. That's it. I can't even cut there to get more writing time. I could cut back on sleep... but that makes me cranky, which significantly reduces the likelihood of me writing.Unless I win the lottery and don't have to work, then I see no end to this dilema. In fact, I see my hours at work jumping a lot around summer. We'll be doing a hell of a lot, and it's going to take a lot of coordination.Speaking of work, my lunchbreak is over, so I'll need to stop this.
In my latest project I've got more than a hundred named characters.
Insanity!? Probably but, that's how I roll. Goofy bastard.
So... how do you keep track of it all? It's a struggle.
These are the tricks I'm using and, the pros and cons of each.
1. Dramatis Persona... word document
This worked Ok until it got to sixteen pages with notes and pointers to other entries. Then it became too complex and cumbersome to easily work well. It lost the virtue of simplicity when it was overloaded with more and more complex and unformed information.
This is what it looked like at first:
Chris Ashley (19) == Father Ashley (n)
Tony Ramano (18) == Mother Maria Ramano (n)
Toby Rankin (13) (d) == Father Sam Rankin (deceased)
Brandon Rankin (14)(d) == Father Sam Rankin (deceased)
Jeb Somerset (15)(d) == parents Somersets of Savannah
Cole Matthews (14)(d) == Father new age fruitcake
Barry Anderson (13) (d) == trafficked child, actual name is Cutler
You don't want to know what happened later. Each entry expanded from name, age, shift (day or night), parent to paragraphs and description and sketches and why the F* are my notes outpacing the writing???
This still exists but it has been trimmed down to only what is needed at a glance. Just basic stats. If I need hair and eye color... Well that's my next step.
2. Dramatis Persona... note cards
Anybody that's ever written a paper knows about note cards and how handy dandy they are. They were hyper-text before there were computers, right?
WRONG. Three by five note cards are amazing things. They help in lots of ways... until they become a horrific cluster of complexity and you can't find your arse with a flash light.
Once again, Keep it simple, stupid. Index cards work but, you can't expect them to be a database.
They are useful for marching ideas across the desk, matching up characters and seeing how things look. If you keep them simple and don't try to do too much with them, it works FINE.
Keep it simple and, it works best if you can remember how to write. (That's actually a thing- handwriting vs keyboarding).
3. Dramatis Persona... spreadsheet- for the win.
Yes it is a clear winner. It's searchable. You can make fields for EVERYTHING. Want to search by how many redheaded characters you have? It's possible. Want to sort by age? You can do it. Want to know who is boffing who? Yeppers, it's a complete possibility.
There are highly complex writing packages that you could spend forever learning and not get anything done. Databases are possible but if you can do that, someone wants to hire you to fix the mess his last guy left.
Spreadsheets are old tech and have been around forever. The key thing about them is they are built generically enough that as your complexity grows, it can accommodate you without breaking anything or having to start over.
Your mileage may vary. If you've got a sane number of characters, data management isn't a huge issue. You may absolutely love Scrivner and have figured out how to make it all work. That's fine. If you can use Excel, you've got a serious power tool.
By Nick Brady
A recent comment in the Writer's Forum about a story involving a disabled person gave me the idea for a story about a blind college student that I befriended many years ago. I have posted a number of stories here on GA - (Carhops, Goats and Bugs, the Marco series and the Nick series). These were reposts that had previously appeared on another site but the new story will appear here first. Since it is new, and because the topic could be a bit sensitive, I would really like a Beta reader. Not so much for the usual grammar edit, but for content. I think there is a good story here and I don't want to screw it up. Any volunteers?
By Thorn Wilde
I've been meaning to do NaNoWriMo for years, but I never got around to it. November always seems to be a bad month for me. So when I heard about Camp NaNoWriMo this year, I decided this was my chance. So, in April, I finished and rewrote Nemesis. And I won! I'm sort of giddy and very pleased with myself right now.