Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.
One of the hardest parts of writing a historical is keeping tracking of what's happening historically alongside what's happening in your story. Several weeks ago as I plodded along with edits, I realized that I had no idea what time of year this part of the story was happening. And 1924 was a very chaotic year crime-wise in Chicago, so I needed to get this figured out.
I made myself a very simple spreadsheet. It's so simple that I'll just show you mine rather than giving you a blank downloadable one:
I wanted to keep mine as simple as possible, but you can certainly get more elaborate. Color code. Follow twenty characters. Do whatever helps you most.
That first column is, of course, for historical details. Mine is blank right now because I haven't come across anything that was happening in history that week that would have impacted my characters. This doesn't have to just be battles or political dates either. This would be a great spot to mention any weather that could have impacted your characters or sports/movies/books they might be talking about.
I picked three characters to follow in detail since they impact the plot the most. Piper is my main character, Mariano is the detective working on her friend's case, and then my villain. I deleted my villain stuff since I didn't want to totally give away what happens in my book, but that's been the most helpful part of this so far. I loved seeing what that character is doing alongside my good guys. (It also showed me that I had given my villain too much time off at one point!)
In the "others" column, I make notes about things that other characters are doing that might impact my main character. The "other" characters are important enough that it might have been worthwhile to track them too, but again, I was trying to keep it simple.
I only wish I had made this for myself during my first draft!
Also, yesterday I mentioned that Go Teen Writers will be hosting a word war! This Thursday, I'm flying out to California for a writing/brainstorming retreat with Jill Williamson and Shannon Dittemore. We'll be in Lake Tahoe, which is one of my favorite places ever, and it should be a really good time of productivity, encouragement, and fish tacos.
|Last time I was in Lake Tahoe, thirteen years ago, I got engaged. As wonderful as Shannon and Jill are, I doubt this trip will top that one :)|
While we're retreating, we thought it would be a fun chance to host a word war on the blog. It'll start Thursday, October 9th and go through Tuesday, October 14th.
Wondering what a word war is? It's when you and another writer (or in this case, lots of other writers!) compete to see who can write the most in a designated period of time. It'll be a come-and-go thing. You can participate everyday or just one of the days, whatever works for your schedule.
The goal is to buckle down and focus on our manuscripts whenever we can, make good use of our writing time, and encourage each other as we do. Hopefully you'll be meeting new writers and deepening friendships as the weekend goes on!
You'll be able to connect with each other in a few different ways:
1. In the comments section of the blog. Something as simple as "Just wrote 1,000 words in the last hour!" is fine. There's strength in being able to encourage each other and in knowing that others are hard at work too.
We're looking forward to a fun weekend of writing with you!