Thursday, 18 October 2018

Consistency with Characters...

You probably know that issue of discovering you've given one or more of your characters two different eye or hair colours in your manuscript, well I'm trying to avoid that as I rewrite.

File cards were the solution. Most places sell the smaller standard size cards in a pack of 50 or 100. The lines on them are quite narrow and honestly my hand writing isn't that small so I wouldn't get much on them!

I knew there was a larger size available, and didn't want to resort to buying online when all I wanted was one pack; I checked every shop I knew had file cards.

 Then I found them, in Rymans. The 5 x 8 inch size.

File cards...
Even with my large writing I can get good amount of words on both sides of one card.

As they only had the white file card in the largest size I needed, I had to find another way to highlight what was physical description; characteristics and negative aspects of each character.

In the end I went with little coloured circles- coloured pens are useful and not just for editing on the printed page.

The other advantage was noticing the gaps in those three areas. My hero is doing fine, but my heroine needs some work. Her characteristics are acceptable at the moment, but physical description is a bit vague...

I do write character profiles before I start writing, but then as the characters develop and particular traits emerge I've not added them to the profiles, so the cards will fill in the gaps as I work through the second draft.

Now I have to decide are his eyes hazel green or green? And whichever one, what sort of green?

My lesson from this for the next time is add the details as I go...

Do you have a process to ensure consistency or do you put it right later on?


10 comments:

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Carol, Many sympathies or is it much sympathy. whatever, I never have any idea of what colour eyes anyone has and often have to resort to 'find' in order to discover. good luck with the cards. I use them for all sorts and did manage to find small ones in three colour packs. anne stenhouse

Carolb said...

Anne- I would have used the coloured set if they'd been the larger size version, but the important thing is that it works.

I have used the smaller type for prompt notes when doing a workshop, so as you say they do have lots of uses. :-)

Patsy said...

I (try to remember to) write down any details like that as I decide on them. I don't bother too much about gaps though – exactly how characters look quite often isn't important.

Carolb said...

Patsy- That's interesting, I do think in a contemporary story you can be flexible, but in an historical romance those elements gives additional subtle information to the reader; there's not the same class structure now as there was then so even small physical descriptions could be important.

Of course it shouldn't be over done, less is more. :-)

Bea Charles said...

How very well organised of you, Carol. Fortunately writing short stories doesn’t require such an intense need for continuity. Interesting what you say about physical details being more important in period drama. I’d not thought of that before, but you’re right. (Of course!)

Carolb said...

Bea- I realised I needed to be able to check a few facts for new scenes and going through numerous pages looking for the answer wasn't practical or time efficient, so I thought a card system would be better.

Like any description it doesn't need to be overdone, but it does need to be right for the circumstances.:-)

liz young said...

I just have a chart with columns, skin tone, eye colour, age etc. But i don't go to the lengths of noting What the character's personality is like - either that comes out in the story or they're not important enough.

Julia Thorley said...

I love that you've gone old school and used index cards, rather than setting up a spreadsheet. :-)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I'm afraid I always forget to write things like that down but it's a good idea! I have used the little file cards for research before but haven't looked at them for years. I seem to keep as much information in my head as possible and one of these days I'll be in trouble when I can't remember it any more. Note to self: start writing more down...

Carolb said...

Liz- that's the good thing about some stories, there's flexibility for each story and each writer.

Julia- I have yet to master a spreadsheet! And if there's a technical problem I can still read pen on card. :D

Rosemary- Yes, I keep a lot of info in my head, but minor things don't stick. I thought it would help me later when I'm checking and editing. :-)