The purpose of this post is to highlight the importance of consulting your earlier outlines or notes when writing a second novel that refers to characters of a previous novel.
When I wrote The Dinorah Chronicles – Ramblings of the Spirit, I did not consult my earlier notes for Moonlit Valley, for most of it. While reviewing Ramblings of the Spirit, I noticed that I had misspelled the name of one of the creatures, and have done it through the entire novel. I wasn’t sure, so I consulted my notes from the first book. This was more than a typo. I was right, I had switched a k for a j, calling the supernatural entity a Murksling instead of a Murkslink, and in a deeper level, altering the character’s essence/meaning (murk-slink). Although it wouldn’t probably affect or alter the story, readers notice these things, and many of them know their critters and supernatural beings by heart, if they are reading your books. Not realizing that mistake on time to make the correction, would have been misinterpreted as carelessness or lack of respect towards the world that a writer has created. In a way, it is a letdown to the reader. This is why it is so important to keep earlier notes and outlines at hand, when out of the ordinary beings are created and named. It is helpful as well, to keep track of important details if you are writing a series.
I keep all my notes and very short outlines in the computer, so it is easy to refer to them, as necessary. However, I was relying on my memory and trusting that I would remember every detail. Not the case. If you don’t like to keep your notes in the PC, a small box of index cards for each novel, divided by chapter, is a good idea. In each chapter card, include meaningful information such as dates, ages, descriptions, places, and names of characters, and any other pertinent details for future series. In addition, you may buy software that can help you organize your novel files. I like to keep it simple because I don’t want to create a project out of an outline of a novel.
So this is my bit of wisdom for today – keep your critters, demons, and supernatural beings at hand, so you don’t end up dissapointing your readers.