Welcome to Book Hooks! This is a blog hop with Marketing for Romance Writers authors. Click links at the end to visit the other hops. Today’s post is on character mentions. How to find any mention of a character in any of your books. It’s easier than you think.
If you’re writing a series, it’s easy to casually slip in a mention about a character from one book into another book. But what if you also mentioned that he is left handed? Or that he was born in Chicago. Or some other detail? When you’re writing yet another book, how do you go back and find all those places? Here’s a snippet from my book the Tarthian Empire Companion, to show you how.
Find character mentions on your computer
Here’s a cool trick if you have several books and you want to find out which book mentions a character. Create a separate folder and into it copy each of your books. Don’t put your originals in there. MAKE COPIES. Take out any bit at the end of the book that mentions upcoming stories (such as sneak peeks) that might contain the character’s name. You want only the actual story in these documents. Keep this folder. You’ll be surprised how handy it is for searching details when you write a series.
Now that everything is together, look at your folder menu. You’ll see something like “Tools” at the top. Your computer might call it “Organize”. Click that, and open Folder Options. Click the Search tab. Under “What to search” there are two choices. Pick the one that says “Always search file names and contents.”
When you click in the search box and type a name, the program will show you which book has the character’s name.
NOTE: It warns that this might take several minutes, but since you’ll mainly use it for searching this folder, that’s fine. I use it routinely on all folders, and it’s a great way to find info I’ve lost or a document for which I can’t remember the title. I have a 2 TB hard drive and to me, it’s not that long — maybe a few seconds. Click OK to save the option. Don’t worry. If it does prove to be too long for everyday use for you, you can easily change it back.
Think about the name before you assume the person is mentioned. For example, if you have a guy named Van Smith, both those words have other meanings. Does one character drive a van? Does the other have a Smith and Wesson? Does someone who is a smith live in Van Nuys? Be sure you know how the word was used within the document if it has shades of meaning or uses. If you aren’t sure, open the document, use CTRL+F (or CMD+F for Mac) and type the name. Then you’ll know for sure. But rather than open each document for each character, it’s super quick to type it once and search all the books at the same time.
Because I have two different versions of the same book from two different publishers, I wanted to know what/who was used in each. When deleting or adding material, it’s easy to remove a mention. So I added a copy of each version and changed the document name to include the publisher’s initials. To quickly change the name, select the document and press F2. Once the name is highlighted, make any changes needed.
I used this method when writing the Tarthian Empire Companion. The book has a listing of all my characters and place names, a history, and much more. I intended it as a companion book for fans of my various series. It quickly became my own go-to for details. Had I spelled homeworld as home world or home-world? This book is my definitive answer (It’s homeworld, btw).
The companion also reveals many of the secrets I used when creating all the worlds in my science fiction series. Download the Top Stops version here (shorter but lots of images). Here’s where to get the full book.
Where to find the Tarthian Empire Companion
Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/companion-bnn
CreateSpace (Print) https://bit.ly/companion-csp
Print – Walmart https://bit.ly/2gotQvk
(FYI – the print version is illustrated and in full color. Beautiful, but expensive. I suggest going with the online version. For a book chock full of world-building, it’s a bargain.)
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