With three books published, another novel coming out in April and plans for novel five, six, and seven – it can be hard to keep up with ALL OF THE CHARACTERS. Hair color, eye color, birthdays, tall, or short, these details are very important and can’t change from book to book.
What’s a writer to do?!?
WRITE IT DOWN, of course!
I have created a notebook, a 2-inch binder full of information that I keep updated for all of my novels. I call it my Grace Series Encyclopedia and I’d like to show it to you and explain a few tips and tricks of my writing secrets that I’ve learned through trial and error.
Want to know more? Of course, you do!
Check out my Grace Series Encyclopedia
My ENCYCLOPEDIA is divided into three main sections:
- Physical Description References
Encyclopedia Section 1: Documents
This includes timelines (color-coded by book), calendars, and individual book information. Each before publishing has its own tab. Since I have 7 books I want to publish, I’ve combined the first three novels in the series under one tab to save room.
- Timelines (Color Coded by novel)
- Calendars (2013, 2014, and a Cobb County School calendar – Accepting Grace)
- Grace Series
- Restoring Grace
- Accepting Grace
- Trusting Grace
Each of these novels includes an outline, character sheets (details later on in this post), and book summary for publishing.
- Renewed by Grace Book 4: Andrea
- Healing Grace Book 5: Laura
- Giving Grace Book 6: Preston
- Saving Grace Book 7: Ivy
These novels are works in progress and don’t have everything the published novels have (YET!)
Book 4 has an outline, character sheets (detailed and list), and book summary information for publishing because it will be coming out April 30. JUST A SHORT TIME AWAY!
To learn more about Renewed by Grace, the fourth novel in the Grace Series, click here!
Book 5 has an outline (in progress), character sheets of both the detailed main characters of Laura Flowers and Jacob Cabot. I have a separate post about my character sheet process which you can read here.
Book 6 and 7 have only the detailed character sheets because it’s so early in the process.
To read about future upcoming novels, check out my In The Works page.
Encyclopedia Section 2: Characters
This section is broken up into 2 groups:
- MAIN Excel list of ALL characters with basic descriptions for quick reference
- Individual List of major character sheets and the minor character sheets
It’s important to update the sheets. I focus on updating them before I start on a novel with new characters I know are going to be in the book. Then I update at the end of a novel with any characters I didn’t know I would be creating.
Characters on my main Excel list is always kept up to date. I highlight new ones that will need to be added to by more detailed character sheets.
This Excel list has ALL characters in alphabetical order for ALL Grace Series novels.
The second group is individual character sheets, major and minor characters divided alphabetically. I wanted a way to keep everything in alphabet order but didn’t want to re-print each letter group when I added a character.
SOLUTION: I group the minor character sheets by novel order and within each novel, they are listed alphabetically.
This photo shows my characters that start with the letter C. All major character sheets are in the beginning in alphabetical order, followed by the minor character sheets in alphabetical order by the novel.
After a few previous ideas, I found this way lets me keep up with all the changing information and doesn’t kill every tree in the vicinity.
It’s convenient because characters introduced in one book sometimes gets their own novel such as Sharon from Restoring Grace, the first novel. When I wrote that book in May of 2013, I had no idea at the time she would be the center of her own novel in book six!
But thank goodness for the Grace Encyclopedia, because it’s easy to make changes!
It was easy to update her info from a minor character to a major/detailed character!
PLEASE NOTE: I admit I have a triple AAA personality and some might see this as going overboard. MAYBE, but I have over 200 characters between my seven novels and I know more will be added as I write each book SO SOME TYPE of system had to be created.
I hate with book series aren’t consistent and didn’t want to do that to my readers, because I love you!
This system has been honed from other ideas and can be a jumping off point for you to find what works best for your characters.
One of the ways I keep from going crazy is I don’t feel out every single item for minor characters if the information isn’t needed. Not everyone needs a birthday, job, etc.
Encyclopedia Section 3: Physical Description References
OVER 200 characters can make it hard sometimes to come up with vivid and engaging characters. I created the third section to help me keep my characters interesting and varied. This group of reference sheets is multiple lists of physical characteristics, personality types, hobbies, skills, and more.
- Character Traits
- Professional Careers/Jobs
- Bad Habits (NO ONE IS PERFECT)
- Personality Types with best careers
- Physical descriptions
- Description of Body Types:
- Color of Eyes
- Overall Appearance
- Color of Hair
- Gestures and Body Language
- To Do While Talking
This section has more than just physical descriptions, it has gestures and actions that help move the story along, keep it real, and help me out when I’m struggling to move the story along.
This is one of my longer posts, but as a fellow writer, I hope you were able to gain some insights into organizing your own stories. To my readers, this gives you a sneak peek into my process and lets you know how much I want to provide you with wonderful, engaging novels to read!
If you would like to purchase the first three novels in the Grace Series, please click here!
Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,