When I write, I keep a book encyclopaedia where I record every detail about characters, places and things I need to remember. I want to be sure that I don’t change someone’s eye colour or preferences halfway through the manuscript. It can happen.
My favourite part about my book encyclopaedia is that I find images of people online to ascribe to each character. I search faces until I find someone who looks the way I imagine a character to look, then I print it out and keep it in the encyclopaedia with my data on that character, to refer to. Somehow, these pictures inform my imagination about personality, strengths, flaws, obsessions, relationships and more. I first used this method when I wrote my unpublished book Diva Sisters, which is about two sisters who sign up for a reality TV show. I was searching online for inspiration about the younger sister whose personality I didn’t quite have right, and I saw a photo of a random woman and bam, that was her. I printed that image and stuck it in my book encyclopaedia, then wondered if I could find images for the other main characters. It works really well for me because I’m one of those writers who is full of new ideas, and sometimes those ideas can make me drift off track, obsess about an irrelevant detail and waste precious writing time.
If you’ve seen my photo’s of my book journal where I write possible plot points, connections, and ideas, you might have noticed it isn’t lined. My book encyclopaedia isn’t lined either. I have found that unlined pages inspire my imagination to go in any direction, if that makes sense. I can make a mind map or I can draw lines between characters and note significant exchanges or conflict points.
I’m using the small Clairefontaine A5 blank booklets, so I can always add another one if I fill the current one and they are easy to store. Below is a photo of the booklets, they come in packs of two.
Once I get some content in the book, I’ll show you a photo or video inside my book encyclopaedia so you can get a peek into that process.