My last post talked about using a calendar to ensure an easier time during the writing process, especially revision. Along with character placement and who they are with, weather, travel time, chapter and pages (to easily locate scenes), etc., another important item to include is character paraphernalia.
I made a list of what I possessed yesterday when I left the house: wallet, keys, pen and notepad, cell phone, comb, cough drops, water, and what I wore. Your characters also have their own possessions at any given time.
Some items are obvious (wallet, purse, available weapons if applicable), but not all are equally important. It depends on the story, and it is up to you as creator to mention only those elements that perform a necessary function tied to your plot.
I was recently made aware how important knowing what a character has—or doesn’t have—when my friend-and-critique-partner, James, requested I remind the reader that my protagonist had recently dropped his sword when attacked.
I left my poor protagonist in a dire situation at the end of a chapter; the next chapter shifted to a different VP.
When I returned to my protagonist, it was simply a matter of “his sword lay out of reach” and the reader was reminded why he was fighting for his life with only a dagger.
Another instance James noted was that my POV arrived at his destination wearing a battered bronze breastplate. Two days later he removed the armor when he bathed in a nearby hot spring. “He wore it for two days while he slept?” James queried. Good point.
Each character possesses too many items to list in the small daily calendar boxes, which is reserved for the basics: character location and who accompanies them, the weather, and in the case of my world, Ananyll, the phases of the moons.
I make a list of what my characters own (sword, dagger, shield perhaps, food, bedding, coin purse, particular clothing if applicable) within their individual Character Sketches, and add to the calendar what they do not currently possess if appropriate and necessary to the story-line.
It is imperative you know what each character has or doesn’t have in all situations.
If Jessie left her purse in the living room, she can’t be desperately searching for a scrap of paper with the PI’s hastily scribbled phone number if she’s in the bedroom, AND you made it clear she stuffed the paper in her purse while at the bar.
Much of writing incorporates the sense of the who, what, when, where, and why in each particular scene, and a calendar is the map that tracks your world and people living there.
See you on the next page,
Rick “C” Langford
P.S. University of Iowa is once again offering a FREE writing course for writers at all levels and from anywhere in the world; it’s called the International Writer’s Program.
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