If you are like me, you have more stories floating around in your brain than you have time to actually write. Some of those stories involve one set of characters, others another. It can lead to all sorts of problems when it is time to actually sit down and do the writing.
That doesn’t even consider how complicated the story-telling can be in a single novel. For example, I wrote a novel once where I had some important but secondary characters show up from time-to-time. The initial writing of the novel went by very quickly but with revisions and follow-up edits, the names (and some of the description) of those characters changed somewhere between the beginning and the end.
Can you say continuity errors, boys and girls? I knew you could.
So, if I can have an issue within a single book, how can I possibly keep things straight when I have entirely different stories and universes to deal with?
It is actually easier than you might think and I started doing it when I realized how easy it can be to have those continuity errors. I keep character, place and plot lists. Since I use Scrivener as my primary writing tool, I have created a section within my documents that keeps track of those things. Whenever I introduce something new, I add it to that section.
When the time comes to start the next story in the universe, I usually just copy that information into a new document and away I go. That also ensures continuity between stories.
I will confess, I haven’t always been as diligent as I should be to do this (at least when I originally write the story/novel/whatever). Then, when the time comes to write the next piece, I’m forced to go back and pick out all that information. That can be a painful process and is usually enough to keep me focused on updating that section after the fact.
I also use Scrivener as a place to record all my story ideas. I have a single project that I put all those ideas into for future reference.
What do you do to keep everything straight?