My Novel Notes (What I keep Track of, How I Use it)

This post isn’t going to be a list, because I like changing things up. Okay, well, there might be a list at the end, but then again–you never know.

One practice that I’ve found evolving as I write is that of taking copious notes on my own novel. This started out around the time of my second novel, when I realized how many continuity errors could be fixed by writing down the ways I’ve described my characters (that way no one gets a new eye color halfway through, or magically dyes their hair).

Recently, the notes also include a bit about personality (if the character is based on a certain person, I’ll simply write that person’s name), and several other details that have nothing to do with physical appearance. My notes on The Clique are so lengthy, they could be a chapter in-and-of themselves, and the part I find interesting is that such a large portion of what I write down never makes it into the novel (at least, not in an immediately noticeable way). For example, one of my characters had parents who’d divorced a while ago, and the only way this showed up was in an offhand comment about pissing off her father.

I’m curious as to how many other writers do this. Do you? If not, do you have a different strategy for keeping track of how your characters look and act (okay, a lot of you probably have memories capable of holding everything in at once, but for us mortals)? If so, do you have a unique way of keeping notes that the rest of us could benefit from? Leave a comment down below!

6 thoughts on “My Novel Notes (What I keep Track of, How I Use it)

  1. One strategy I’ve heard that I like is making up a survey for each character – appearance, background, personality traits, quirks they might have and also things to help you round out the character – like their favorite books, movies, etc. , how they relate to other characters in the book.

  2. I try to keep my characters extremely diverse (because we live in a world with different races and sexes, so it would be abnormal to not have them in a novel). To solve that, I sum up the amount of characters and put them in several gender and racial circles, then I spread that out into family/background, and then I give them vague characterization (your characters tell you how they want to be expressed). And then I write them.
    I keep all of it vague because the context and surroundings in my novel will affect what they do and how they go from there.

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