So, you want to write a novel and you’re wondering how to get all the characters you inevitably want to introduce straight, and keep them straight, thus keeping continuity. We’ve discussed an outline in another post, and that is a way to keep the story from tripping over itself, but how do you keep all the names and people right without changing an entire character on accident?
To the left, is a snippet of a Word document where I have the names of the characters. Now, I know that seems like a lot of names, and you may get wide-eyed when I tell you there are at least four pages of characters, but that does not mean I am going to introduce all four pages in one book. This is more of a family tree and where those families live. This is because am building a world with my novels and outlines. When you build a world, you have to populate it. You are God in your world, and a world without people is a book filled with descriptions galore but no meaningful interactions. While building this world, you must define the relationships between the characters and where they live.
For instance, the Tygnow family lives in a world akin to D&D where there are dragons, orcs, demons, and all manner of monsters that do not exist in our world, not to mention they are also mixed race, Storm Giant and Dark Elf, but not all the family is that way. Robin, the titular character in my series lives in a world like our own, but is divided, and after decades of living in a world where magic did not exist, it is beginning to manifest in different ways. Robin herself has connections with the people in her home for the homeless and abused, but she isn’t related to them.
Yes, you can just sit down and start writing a novel and throw out names as you fill the pages, but without a way to write those names down and list who and where they are, you are bound to have to back-track to remember a name, or you may even change the character’s name accidentally. You don’t have to use Word, or another word processing program to do this. You can jot down names and relationships in a notebook, or in a note app to glance at it for reference. As long as you find a way that is comfortable for you to keep everything contiguous, you’re doing it correctly.
Until next time, Chow!
The Mad Woman