When I first wrote BLOOD FAERIE, I had the luxury of making things up as I went along. Nobody could say I had any “facts” wrong, because, hey, I created the world. But when it came time to pen AZURI FAE, well, I had to make an effort to be consistent. Did Eilidh have silver eyes or grey eyes or green eyes with some silver? Was Munro left-handed? How old was he when his father died?
You’re asking me? I can barely remember what I had for breakfast!
While writing AZURI FAE, I just had to do a quick search through the first book, and it really wasn’t too much to handle. After all, I was covering a lot of new ground (both figuratively and geographically), so mainly my concern was character descriptions.
Then ENEMY OF THE FAE rolls around, and I have two 250 page documents to deal with. Suddenly it’s not so easy. How long had Cadhla been married to Griogair? How old was Beniss? Munro had three cousins…where did they live and what were their names? I need to name a minor character–have I used the name Alison before? But I managed (with the help of some eagle-eyed beta readers who seemed to know the books better than I do!)
Now I’ve decided to write another trilogy in the same world. No way can I search through 750+ pages every time I describe a character.
I looked at storyboarding software. I already have Writer’s Cafe, but I found the character and setting database clunky. I thought about using Wiki software. That’s basically what I wanted–a wiki for my books. The downside is that I’d need to put it online. I do already have a website, but this was information for me and not a public thing. Yes, I could password protect the directory, but suddenly it seemed more of a bother than an aid.
The Solution – Evernote
In the end, I settled on something I already had on my computer. I had downloaded Evernote when my dad said he had begun using it to organise his new book (yes, I have a lot of authors in the family!) but when I first looked at it, I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for so I filed it away and didn’t think of it again until half-way through my organisational quest.
Evernote is interesting. It can be used like a private Pinterest, a journal, a scrapbook, or a way of keeping track of ideas. It’s an amazingly flexible program. Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE? Did I also mention there are apps for iphone, android phone, windows phone… nearly every kind of mobile device you can imagine? So you can take pictures with your phone and then save them to your Evernote notebooks, save websites, etc.
Another interesting aspect is that you can share your notebooks with others (individually or with the wider public.) I have mine set to private and they aren’t available online, but if I ever collaborate with someone on a story, this is definitely an option I’d consider.
Here’s how I’ve started using mine. Keep in mind, this is only the beginning. I have a ton more data to enter, but here’s the data from the first 10 chapters of BLOOD FAERIE: (Click to enlarge)
It’s already been a huge help, and interestingly, it’s sparked a few ideas. Some of these little details that I’d totally forgotten about could easily evolve into something much more important. I will admit the process has been time consuming so far, but in the end, I know it’s time for me to get serious about being organised. If, that is, I plan on keeping my story straight!
Writers: How do you organise a series?
Readers: have you ever noticed a continuity error in a series?
[EDIT] Edited to add this: I just ran across a neat forum on Evernote’s website that shows how other people use the program… everything from organising blog posts to craft patterns, productivity to small business organisation. Very cool! [/EDIT]