Stark Naked and jug-bitten.

I’ve been feeling like the châtelaine of a great, sprawling manor that for the most part has been running along pretty well despite the fact that at my waist I have an empty châtelaine.

Confusing? Yeah, I was looking up the word “Châtelaine” to see how to spell it and not only does it mean “lady of the manor” or “woman in charge of big, sprawling responsibility.” But it also can mean “a set of short chains on a belt” that a man or woman might have worn at the waist a couple of centuries ago with keys or small tools dangling from them.  Here is an image of a Châtelaine wearing a châtelaine. Picture the chaos if she were without her chains and dependent upon the good behaviour of the children or her ability to keep them in line while handling everything else at once….

John Leech Sketch from Punch Magazine, 1849


And of course I also found this châtelaine:

Are we surprised that when I looked for an image of a châtelaine I stumbled across (and snagged) a steampunk châtelaine?

No we are not.

Moving right along.

My big, sprawling manuscript is undergoing a nip-and-tuck, and I’m also attempting to inventory the manor.  I’m attempting to make note of all references that could come back later and be important so that if in the other books of this series I need this information, I can put my hands on it and not have to scan and search entire manuscripts to figure out where somebody sang this song which is suddenly prophetic or whether somebody else looked out a window that faced north in book one, because in book two it’s important that it face west into the setting sun…

Yeah.  And a long time ago I bought Holly Lisle’s Create a Culture Workbook primarily for this purpose–figuring out how to organize and keep track of a thousand different details.

But there was a problem.  I’d reread a chapter to edit and tighten.  Also wanting to track important plot things. Prophecy or a character’s growth from bumbling to heroic or what color the damned horse was. Oh, and is it a mare or a gelding in this scene? Think it should be the same gender in all scenes? Well, yeah, that.  All these things.  Story issues, artifacts, vocabulary, even.  I’ve realized that one character really should use a lot more Regency cant than he does right now, and another character should start with little and add more as the book continues.

Details, details, details.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a detail person?

So.  I decided I needed a color-coordinated system.  I would use a different color highlighter for each thing I’m tracking, have a small index card beside me to remind which color means which thing, and as I’m reading, editing, rewriting, massaging, nipping and tucking words–simply highlight details that need to be tracked and later I’ll add them to master lists.

I went one step further. I took my templates for the various lists of things I’m tracking to Office Depot and had them photocopy color-coordinated lists.  All references to science & magic will be highlighted in blue and recorded on a blue inventory list.  Buildings & architecture, orange. Etcetera.

I even found a package of Post-it Pop-Up Page Markers that match every color of highlighter in my set except yellow, and I already have a ton of yellow so I’m pretty much set.

But, I have to ask this question. Really, Office Depot? Really? I know to expect you to charge more than if I order from Amazon, but you seriously just charged me $6.49 for those post-its that are only $3.99 on Amazon, plus I don’t pay postage because I’m a member of Amazon Prime?

I want to support businesses that provide jobs locally. I do. But Office Depot, do you have to make it that hard?

Anyway, I’m all set. Color-coordinated and organized and ready to deal with details.

Except that all this thinking hard and buzzing around has left me quite fagged to death, not to mention finding myself on the rocks after that trip to Office Depot. I hope this hasn’t been just a lot of bother and fustian, and that I haven’t made a cake of myself in the pursuit of organization.

Because if I have, I might just have to wallow in the Stark Naked and end up jug-bitten.




Filed under Regency England, Steampunk, Writing, Writing Process

10 responses to “Stark Naked and jug-bitten.

  1. denise

    Breathe 😉

  2. I second Denise! Breathe!
    But, it is within the details that will get the writer every time!

    I’ve tried the color coordinating approach… just got lost even more so, but then I had slips of pretty colors all over my desk, elbows, floor …

    Now I simply use excel with worksheets for each character, descriptions, their homes, pictures found on the internet to help with what goes with what. Even found a floor plan of “his” manison, so I always know where the kitchen is in relation to the living room! Seems to be working nicely, even when breaks turn into months! I can then check over the HUGE excel file and get back to writing!

    I look forward to reading your work!

    • I use scrivener to corral all my research and love it–including photos, music, websites, files, everything. My issue now is that while writing a trilogy, I am planting things in book one that won’t show up again until book three (as an example) and that sort of thing takes serious tracking. Despite the fact that I go nowhere without my laptop, have electronic everything, and have had my own Mac since ’84–I finally figured out when it comes to this kind of thing I’m totally analog. Index cards, highlighters, post-its. I have no idea why!

    • Do you actually put the images and floorplans and such in the excel sheet? (trying to picture that) Put a picture on your blog and describe your process and I’ll link to it!

  3. Pingback: Lanetta’s Excel-lent worldbuilding! |

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