Way back in November, I mentioned in a post that it would make sense for me to start keeping track of details that I mention about my characters in “Fatal Forgery” and “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, so that I can avoid blunders like making Wilson dark-haired in one book and then fair in the next. It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I realised that the longer I leave it – i.e. the more books I write – the more difficult it will become. And so this weekend I speed-read (sped-read?) both novels again, looking out for descriptive details.
(I hope it doesn’t sound too conceited, but I have to say that I was really rather proud of what I had written. I haven’t read either book since publication, so I had forgotten quite a lot, and I’m glad to say that the stories hang together well.)
As I was gathering details, I realised that I am building up a core cast of characters. There are Sam and Martha, of course, and then Wilson. But then there are also the magistrate Conant and the banker Freame and the prison keeper Wontner. I like them all, and I think Sam is the sort of man who would make and retain loyal friends, so I hope that they can all appear in all of the novels – they are certainly there in “Plank 3”.
So I now have a separate folder called “Character details”, with a sub-folder for each one. And they’re filled with handy hints like “has unruly curls” and “really likes pigeon pie and walnut loaf” and “teetotal because father was a mean drunk”. I think the time to add to these folders – rather than simply consulting them – is after the publication of each book. Because as I’m writing, I daren’t add details in case they change in a later edit – after all. Wilson might go undercover and hit the hair dye.