Updating Character Sheets

In January 2017 I published a blog post, asking if OneNote is a writer’s tool?

Since then many of you know that I use OneNote as a writer’s tool, not only to take notes, but to actively use it to take information, writing notes, reminders, and lists with me.

Since I am a big fan of OneNote, I also use it to create my character sheets.

Writing a series as the one I do now makes it necessary to keep track of my recurring and new characters and what better way is there to keep my characters as close to me as possible at all times than to use OneNotes?

Now, changing from my former desktop to my current laptop has lost me my entire OneNote. It almost broke my heart, until I realized that I did have one local copy on an external memory device. This means I got my brains together when I made a OneNote data backup. Unfortunately, this was an older version of all my notes. Big chunks of the writing notes were missing, and the character sheets were more or less on the basic character drafts.

Nobody can say I’m not learning from my mistakes and this disaster taught me a few things:

1. save your writer’s notes on a current device
2. make sure the data isn’t only on the cloud but also on the device
3. keep your character sheets as current as possible at all times

Point three has caused me sleepless nights. I realized that I occasionally took notes on the characters wherever I was and on whatever piece of paper I found, but rarely updated the character sheets with new developments.

In a series as of mine, there are definitely a number of characters, the planned returning ones and new ones that come up with the story of new books. When I started my series I had fourteen returning characters on the ‘Good’ side and at least eight characters on the ‘Bad’ side to begin with, and no matter how good I am, I cannot memorize every single small development each of these characters took with the progress of the series.

That means, right now, I’m busy searching my finished manuscripts and drafts for the developments that I had not written down in the character sheets.

I’m therefore spending some of my time reading, taking notes and updating character sheets, with the defined resolution to keep my character sheets up-to-date from now on! It is a lot of work, but I know it’s worth it.

After all, I want my books to be comprehensible and with no obvious character flaws.

While I wrote this blog post, I was asking myself if I’m the only one working like this? Am I complicated? Does that make sense? And how are other authors developing character sheets? Where do other authors keep them? If you can give me some advice, I’d be grateful to hear it in the comments. Thank you!

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author, creative writing, writing Synopsis Writing: A Step By Step Method – by Uninspired Writers

M.L. Davis of Uninspired Writers provided us with a very helpful step-by-step method to write a synopsis. Thank you very much!


Morning writers, I hope you’ve had a lovely week.

A couple of weeks ago I started writing a synopsis based on the early draft of my second novel. Like many writers, I find synopsis writing tedious, difficult and frustrating. However, they are a necessary evil, published or unpublished.

The method I ended up using this time round actually made the process much easier, and I did it in steps. Please note this is by no means a tried and tested method, with no guarantee that it’ll work for you. But it worked well for me, so I thought I’d share. If you have any synopsis writing tips of your own please pop them in the comments below, as I’m always keen on new ideas and advice.

1. Write a bullet list of key points
In this first step it’s important not to think too hard. Write a list of the key points in your story, but don’t worry about what you’re including. Use the first points that come into your head. Chances are that if they stand out, they’re important.

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How Could 1 Body Decompose at 3 Different Rates? – By Sue Coletta

Crime writer Sue Coletta provides us with a fascinating forensic case which I read with great interest. To my surprise the comments to the post are about as informative as the post and I couldn’t resist sharing it with other writers!


In late November/early December, something on a Discovery ID show blew my mind. On the dramatization of this real case, the detectives investigated a dead body found in the Oregon forest. Nothing new there, right? Here’s the kicker … The victim was decomposing at three alarmingly different rates. The corpse was not dismembered, either. One intact body, from head to foot, but with three different decomposition processes taking place at the same time.

The legs looked fresh. No change in appearance, very little, if any, discoloration. The torso had decomposed enough to show most of the ribcage, with exposed, decaying organs. As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, only hair was left on the head, the scalp sliding off a bare skull. No face, no tissue, nothing left but bone and teeth.

This rarity baffled the forensic expert they called to the scene. It also drove me crazy, because they never said what caused it. Instead, the show concentrated on the multiple homicides and finding the suspect. Probably made for better TV. A short comment at the end of the show stated they hadn’t unraveled the mystery. At the time of the homicide, that may have been true, or they just didn’t want to shift focus.

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Amazon Advertising for KDP Authors in 2019 – By Chris McMullen

Chris McMullen published a very useful and educational blog post about advertising for KDP authors. Thank you very much for the information, Chris!


AMAZON ADVERTISING VIA KDP

As of 2019, Amazon modified how their advertising campaigns work, so this seems like a good time for a new article about how to use it.

I started using Amazon’s advertising feature several years ago, when it was first introduced to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Since then, my ads have generated over 100 million impressions. So I have a little experience with how this works.

Advertising is one of many marketing tools. Like most marketing tools, you probably won’t blindly achieve instant success.

And like any paid marketing tool, advertising carries risk. If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of money quickly, and you might not recover your investment.

Advertising probably isn’t the solution for a book that isn’t selling on its own. It works better for some books than others, and for some authors than others. The success of the ad depends on a variety of factors.

One big problem is that there are many variables to consider:

How much should you bid?
How do you target your ads?
Is your custom text helping or hurting?
Does your cover draw your target audience in effectively?
Does your product page sell effectively?

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Choosing a Book Title – Be Smart – Written By Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio provides us with his advice. Thank you very much for your help, Don. I think your book titles are very artfully chosen!


When I wrote my first novel, I wanted the main character to be, like me, and Italian American. There are many Italian-sounding first names I could have gone with, Tony, Johnny, Carmine, etc. I decided to go with Frank. Frank is a name that is common among Italians, but it also gave me the opportunity to be clever with the title. I went with Frankly Speaking. There were other books with this title, but none in the genre in which I was writing. It was a good title in that it seemed to work and not adversely affect sales.

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New Writing Scams to Look Out for in 2019 – Written By Anne R. Allen

Anne R. Allen took the time to provide us with a warning about writing scams to look out for in 2019. Thank you very much Anne!


Predators are on the lookout for scammable new or discouraged writers.

by Anne R. Allen

As long as there are writers, there will be writing scams. Hungry predators will always be lying in wait, ready to pounce on any tender young scribe who strays from the safety of the mainstream herd.

And now there are an increasing number of scammers who target the established writer as well—hoping to profit from the discouragement so many indies are feeling as Amazon’s changing policies and algorithms leave them behind.

In the 1990s, bogus literary agencies were everywhere. They advertised directly to writers in magazines and online—often buying ads in prestigious magazines like Writers Digest and Poets and Writers.

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