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?

3 thoughts on “Notes, Notes, and…Confusion?

  1. I don’t usually have too much trouble keeping my characters straight. I tend to be very character-driven in my writing so they’re the easy part. Sometimes I’ll leave myself notes to verify someone’s eye color when I do the edit, though.

    And I do have a scene where I have too many people going in too many different directions and I sort of lost track. I’ll keep a score card when I edit to make sure that no one is talking to someone who’s in another building.

    For a rather chaotic battle scene that I wrote I actually drew a picture of who was where so everyone could be present and accounted for and fighting the right enemy. When a battle ended or shifted I drew a new picture. (And by “picture” I mean that I used initials for my characters and circles for the bad guys. LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to just wing it so much that I mix them up a lot. Trying to break myself of that habit. I started leaving myself little notes on the back of the notecards I’m using for each individual scene on things I know I may have screwed up. But the picture idea is actually a really good idea, I might steal that.


  2. Pingback: Motivation Will Be My Downfall… Or Rather, The Lack Thereof | Darkling Dreams

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