Notes, Notes, and…Confusion?

How many of you have trouble keeping your characters straight when you start a novel?

*Raises hand slowly*

That is my predicament right now. My current WiP novel has about 20 some odd minor characters. Each of those minor characters also has a companion horse. (And this is not counting all the other one time or so characters that make a random appearance in the novel, nor my main characters.) So, in all, I have about 40 characters — including horses — I have to figure out appearances/personalities/names/details about at the moment.

That’s a lot of notecards. A lot, a lot.

And try sticking all 20 of said characters in a room together in the same scene and try to keep them all straight. Before you have all the notes lined up, too. I did things the hard way. Now, because I started to confuse myself on the characters I’m trying to work all of them out before I continue on writing.

(Which is hard because I just want to dive head first in and keep writing instead of making myself the notes. But I need them, or I’ll screw myself more when it comes to editing.)

I’m pretty much driving myself nuts figuring out names, appearances, horse breeds, more names… I completely suck at coming up with last names. First names, I’m not that bad; but last names… Let’s not go there. And since I do not know which minor characters might be more than completely minor yet (minus a few I know are in the end scene of the book) I’m left figuring out names and everything for all of them at once.

Sounds like fun, right? Not.

There’s literally papers and notecards strewn everywhere around me as I figure this out. I’d much rather just be writing, winging it. But as I found out the hard way, that was confusing me and I was easily mixing characters up. I need some sort of organization before I continue on writing this novel.

So as I wade through this chaos and confusion of mine, here’s my question:

How do you guys as writers work out your organization in keeping characters and scenes accurate throughout your books without messing them up? Do you use notecards like me? Outlines like a few friends I know? Notebooks even maybe? Or a combination of things? Or even something completely different?

I’ve come to find using a combination of a notebook and notecards is working for me. What about you guys?

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October Magic (Wednesday Words 1.28.15)

Here it is: The very first post of Darkling Dreams!

A good friend of mine, P.T. Wyant, is doing a blog post every Wednesday called Wednesday Words with a new prompt for a bit of flash fiction writing, just to get in the habit of writing something, anything. (Even if said flash fiction is complete garbage at the time. Garbage is better than nothing though, right?) If you’re looking for some inspiration yourself or just something to aimlessly write, then go check out her blog for this week’s prompt.

With that being said, I am going to share what I came up with for the flash fiction. So here is my very rough around the edges minute of inspiration based off her prompt. I’d love to hear what you guys think of it!

(Please excuse any errors you may see, I said it was rough around the edges.)

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October Magic

Katriana sat within the circle she had cast, a flickering small, white candle cupped in her hands in front of her. She gazed into the soft flame, an almost dazed expression on her face as she became in tuned with herself. Despite her clouded features, her senses were sharp around her. Ears pricking at the smallest sound, her nose twitching to the smell of the earth in the bowl next to her. Her intuitiveness and mindfulness was all she needed to tap her instincts into her surroundings and be aware of them.

A soft meow and the touch of silky fur against her arm was all she needed to know her cat had brushed against her, entering her circle. A small smile tugged at her cherry red lips. She didn’t need to look away from the flame image she was focusing on in order to know what little Darkling was doing.

She murmured a few more words in a low chant, finishing off the blessing prayer she was performing. Closing her eyes for a moment she let her words sink in around her, visualizing them for a small amount of time until the image was clear in her mind. With another small smile on her lips she opened her eyes slowly and set the candle down on pillar plate in front of her, before grounding the rest of her energy and closing the circle.

Darkling meowed again as he pushed his way under her arm and stepped into her lap. He peered up at her with violet eyes and she chuckled lightly.

“My little Darkling,” she cooed as she ran a hand over his silky black coat. He purred at her touch and rubbed his head against her chest, his tail flicking happily in her face. Gingerly, she picked him up and stood up, holding him in one arm and petting his head with her other as she gazed wistfully out her window.

The light breeze played through the screen, bathing her in small chills from its nighttime assault. The sun was sinking over the tree line now, painting the world in an array of bright fiery colors. The tree directly in front of her swayed playfully in its nature’s breath, looking eerie and peaceful all at once under the setting sun of an October day.

Darkling purred again, nudging his head up to knock against Katriana’s chin. She scratched under his chin and looked to him, her long, wavy red hair falling to fan around his head.

“We shall see how the winds blow for us this time. We’ve done our part, now it is energy of the universe’s turn to respond to us, little one.”

The little black cat meowed faintly again before she stooped down and set him back on the floor where he then proceeded to weave in and out of her legs before he bounded off to his bowl of milk in the corner of the room.

Katriana looked back out the window, watching the light fade to darkness with her arms crossed on the seal. “We shall see,” she whispered to the wind.