I understand story structure. I understand story arcs and character motivation. I know how to tell a story.
But there was one thing I wasn’t prepared for – my faulty memory.
I have a lot of characters in my book, so you can imagine how unhappy I was discovering I had forgotten about a character back in chapter 2.
I was currently writing chapter 23.
Oh my God. I couldn’t believe it.
I took the time and energy to put this girl in a chipmunk outfit, got her to the Republican National Convention with a gallon of lube and a dead prostitute, and I somehow forgot to write the rest of her story.
How in the hell did that happen?
It was a great story too!
It was supposed to end with an epic light saber battle inside a McDonald’s bathroom in San Francisco. There were 15 circus clowns in one of the stalls, ready to pounce, in what could only be described as the best clown-car moment of all time. Even Charlie Sheen gets into the act by bludgeoning the bathroom attendant for giving him herpes.
It was novelistic gold!
JK Rowling would have read that scene and been like, “Wow. That’s some seriously fucked up shit.”
All I can say is, I have even more respect now for writers. Creating a story that resonates with an audience is difficult enough, but keeping track of a multitude of characters, over the course of 300 pages, is tougher than I imagined.
So I created one of these (click to enlarge):
Now I just move them around as I write.
I know exactly where every character is at any given moment.
I’m like the NSA.
My new motto: “No character left behind!”