When I wrote Thimble Fingers I created an entire village. Well really, it's an outdoor mall made up of cottages, each one a specialty shop. I named streets, I described the stores. I described the owners and other people attached to the stores. I made up this little universe.
And I didn't keep notes.
I guess you can't keep notes if you don't make them.
This is not a problem if it were one book. But this book is the first in a series. Each book focuses in on the life of a shop owner. They walk the same streets and meet the same people as my protagonist in Thimble Fingers did.
Which means I have to be careful about where I put the shops in relation to the mall, what the stores look like, who runs them, the names of the shops, the spellings of the people and so on and so on and so on.
I was fine until I sat down to write the second in the series and I had my characters walking along one of the streets and I couldn't remember the name of a shop.
Now mind you, I had only mentioned the name of the shop once and it was just glossed over, but now I wanted to visit that shop, but I couldn't.
So what this means is that I'm doing what I should have done all along. I've created a spreadsheet with all this information. Well I've created the spreadsheet, now I have to put in all the information.
Which means going over my already published book line by line to find the info.
This is taking forever. How could I have possibly had all this in my head at one point? There's like a million characters and a few thousand stores and - okay not really, but there is an awful lot. And I managed to keep all the characters relationships straight and it's really a wonder that I could do all that.
For the most part I still can, although it was a bit of a wake up call when someone on Shelfari made a list of characters - quite nice of them and very impressive - and I didn't remember the names of some of them.
So now I am making lists of all these things because even if I remember it now, I won't remember it when I get to book five and I'll want to visit a character that was mentioned in passing or a store that was talked about off hand.
And while I'm making this spreadsheet I'm realizing that I'm going to have to have a page of notes for each character and each store.
I thought it was good enough to have a rough map and a list of the stores, but when I went to my original notes I discovered that some of the names of stores and streets had been changed.
My thirteen year -old daughter is shaking her head at me. "Why didn't you do this before?" she asked.
Well, who wants to stop and make spreadsheets when the characters are doing such crazy things? I had to find out what was going to happen next.
I keep telling myself that this is indeed part of the writing process even though it sure doesn't feel like it and even though it's taking a long time it will save me time in the long run.
I have to tell myself that a lot. It's hard to remember to tell myself that when I keep banging my head repeatedly against my desk.
There is going to be a lot of chocolate eaten around here.