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 Drew Payne
I am halfway through a novella about coming out, set in the present day. I’m planning on it being twenty chapters long and I’ve already written the first ten chapters. It’s about 31,000 words long so far.
I was planning on publishing here a chapter a week, and starting publishing it now will really push me to finish writing it.
I am dyslexic and often make very simple or silly spelling mistakes, and that is one of the reasons I need an editor.
Examples of my writing can be read here:
I have worked with editors on GA before, and have regularly worked with editors on other publications and websites. I do not mind how I receive the feedback but I am used to using the Track Changes function on Word.
Naturally, I would credit you as editor when I post the story on GA.
By Drew Payne
I need an editor/proofreader for my 9,400 word story that I want to post to GA as a six-part story, it is written in six different scenes.
The narrator a gay man who was involved in the ex-gay movement as a teenager. The story is about the effect the ex-gay movement has had on his life and how he comes to terms with it. In a way, it is a follow-on story from my short Keeping the Faith, though it has a different narrator. Keeping the Faith can be read here:
I need someone to proofreader my spelling and grammar, as I am dyslexic.
The story is complete and finished. It is in a Microsoft Word Document file, but I can easily change the format. I am British so it is has been written using British spelling and grammar and I wish to retain that.
I have worked with one editor on GA, but have regularly worked with editors on other publications and websites. I do not mind how I received the feedback but I am used to using the Track Changes function on Word.
Naturally, I would credit you as editor when I do post the story on GA.