Writing Tip #68

While you write, keep a text file open that contains all the story facts you tend to forget. I am the queen of creating character names, ages, occupations and family trees and then totally forgetting them the next time I sit down to write. How old did I make that character again? Did I spell that with an “ie” or “y”? Did she have three children or did I decide to make it two? I will then get caught up in a fact-finding mission to recover those missing bits of info, either wasting time going through previously written chapters or scouring my workstation for notes that I probably scribbled on a napkin that is long gone or at the bottom of the trash.

Now what I do — and I wish I would have done this when I started writing Baby Grand — is simply keep a file open with all that info, kind of like last week’s tip which dealt with more of the mechanical writing rules, such as grammar, punctuation or spelling, that often slip our minds.

Blogger Michelle D. Keyes commented on last week’s post that she might not recommend this kind of thing for a first draft. I agree that it certainly isn’t a good idea to get hung up on grammar or character minutia and stifle the flow of ideas. In fact, Writing Tip #7 talked about the helpfulness of using TK as a substitute for forgotten facts as you write. I use TK all the time during a first draft when I have a mental block, but then when I’ve finished writing a paragraph or page, I often go back and fill in those TKs when there’s a lull in the pace, a stop in the action. I’m one of those writers who likes to edit as she goes, and, for me, it helps to have these grammar and story documents available as a quick reference point.

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