Keeping Track of Multiple Characters, Even The Walk-Ons

This tweet arrived on twitter: I hate it when I forget what some of my side characters look like and I have to hunt through 150 pages or so to find it.

There is a way to avoid this time-wasting activity when you want to get on with the story.  Create a character file.

Use a word processing program and index each character in your story.

Number the pages.

Add characters by name alphabetically.

Each time you add a new character mark the name for indexing.

Create an index at the end of your character list.

When you add a character or add new information about a character re-index.

Yes, it takes time to set this up.  But, once it is set up it take seconds to find out which of the three construction workers had the blond ponytail.  All you have to do is go to the index, find the page for the character and then go there to recall details.

For each character list name, age, distinguishing physicalities.  For the main characters you can add personal history and all the details, favorites, things that tick them off, etc.

As your story progresses it is easy to add a character  And quite simple to check details as you work along, even 150 pages later.

2 thoughts on “Keeping Track of Multiple Characters, Even The Walk-Ons

  1. This is a really great idea. I know I’m going to complain about the time it takes to set up, but surely the time it saves in the long run will be even more. Thanks for sharing!


    1. I had a city, a palace, two parallel legal systems, a gang of teenage boys writing graffiti, etc. to populate my historical novel. I was going crazy flipping through notes until I came up with this system. It really does work and…it’s worth the effort at the beginning. Plus, it’s so easy to add characters as they pop up.


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