Its all in the details. This, by the way, is something that J.K.Rowling does extremely well. Her characters, her settings live and breathe (if a setting can be said to breathe) because of all the glorious detail she puts in. Her readers have no problem imagining who or what or where. Some may say that its too much and perhaps thats the reason her books are long and dense- I mean “dense” in the best possible meaning of the word ie: meaty, all-encompassing, enthralling . This may be so. Personally I happen to like knowing exactly what a castle or sweet shop or shrieking shack look like, and I like short, descriptive sketches of all the characters as well.
This brings me to an exercise Ive been doing while I work slowly on the next book. I found that I had to go back and look up a few details, such as when Feltuss birthday is (June 11), and what the big street near his apartment building is called (Grand Avenue), and what kind of tree is it that he can see through the living room window (a maple), as well as figuring out a bunch of other little things for Book #2 and Book #3 like what is Percys fathers first name and is Percy older or younger than Feltus? Not to mention finding all the little inconsequential things that Ive just dropped into the story as I write that I wouldnt ever remember without a note, like that Fs apartment building is in quadrant # 16847623690501 of the Veil. All fun stuff that makes me feel like Im writing about real people about whom I am slowly uncovering things. Wow! Was that the clumsiest sentence ever? Anyway, most of this extra information will remain unknown to the reader ‘cause honestly do they need to know that Feltuss feet are a size eleven? Or that Mr. Flannery prefers BVDs to boxers? But Ill know all these useless details and itll make it far easier to ensure that my characters act true to themselves and speak their minds, and thatll make the stories I tell more believable.
So what Ive been doing over the last few days is to make up little index cards for each character and then also for some of the main settings which will re-occur throughout the series, and when Im writing about the Magical Ewe for instance and Im down to the wire and for some reason I cant remember which of the conjoined twin waitresses is Bobbie and which is Sue Ill be able to look it up. Its been great and besides finding that Id put in a lot more detail than I remembered especially in the first book since the revision process happened very quickly and mostly very late at night while I was working full-time at a bookstore, Ive also been able to really map out some new characters; what they look like, their likes and dislikes, their taste in music, whatever helps me visualize them clearly so that my readers can too.
Im feeling so excited about this organized approach that I may even transfer all the info to the computer and have a back-up that I can keep adding to and perfecting.
Anyone else use any tricks to get their creative thoughts in order?
Oh and by the way, Happy New Year!