Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Dreaded Art Fact Sheet

Well, there's good news - Afterburn, my next book, will be out May 2009. And there's bad news - I need to complete the Art Fact Sheet now. The AFS is the bane of my existence (or it is until I have to write my next synopsis and then it will be).

The thing to remember about the AFS is that I finished writing this book about...three months ago and since then have been working on my next two books. At the moment I can barely remember my own name let alone the eye color for a heroine two books ago. I have to count on my fingers to remember how old I am. It's sad when all I can remember is that my hero is, um, old enough to be a pilot. These things were important when I was writing the book. And when I finished I promptly forgot them.

And then there are the questions about theme, overarching characteristics, etc. I'm so blind when it comes to these things. I'm absolutely certain I have them...I've been told I have them. The problem is I can't see them. Maybe because I'm too close to pick just one. I absolutely agonize over answering these questions. I think it goes back to my years in school. I'm deathly afraid of putting down the wrong answers and flunking the test.

After the last two days I've decided for the next books I'm going to start a cheat sheet file. I wasn't allowed one in school but there's no one to stop me from using one now. Here's hoping I remember to actually open it because it won't do me much good blank.

Anything you've been agonizing over lately?



Linda Winstead Jones said...

No agonizing for me, at the moment. I just mailed in the next RS and now can enjoy a little down time. I need it. I'm quite sure AFS will come up sooner or later, and I don't like them any better than you do. :-/ I always forget the details, and I am oblivious to my own themes. Kelley St. John once did a fabulous program on hooks, and she used one of my books as a hook-rich example. I just sat there and went "Huh" or "Oh, yeah, hmm" because for the most part it was news to me.

I like the idea of a cheat sheet, but I doubt I'll ever take the time to put one together. I usually have to pull up the book file and read a bit, and then it all comes back to me. Well, most of it comes back. :-)

Barbara Vey said...

I know a lot of authors use pictures as inspiration while writing. Maybe you could just keep a couple of those pictures to help you visually remember what you were thinking.

Me, I'd definitely need a cheat sheet because I forget everything.

Rhonda Nelson said...

Instigator, I routinely forget everything about them--even their names. :-) A cheat sheet is a good idea...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I am agonizing over revisions. Still.

The cheat sheet sounds good. And it should be easy for the stuff like hair and eyes. Just jot it down as you go. And if you get a glimmering of theme, jot that too. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I use something like that here for all the events that I handle. I have a sheet that I print out for each event, put in a booklet and start checking items off as the event gets closer and items are gathered for said event. I can have any where from 1 to 4 events on any given week. The events are smoother and less hectic on me and my nerves. Good luck!

Crystal Lee said...

I support the cheat sheet plan or a few scribbled notes as you go along, just so you have a reference point. This helps to maintain continuity as you write. A few visual references are also a good idea.

Hang in there, Instigator!

Smarty Pants said...

I need to keep a sheet. Halfway through the book, I realize I switched the hero's eye color. Or I forget his last name (if he even has one...). Or if the heroine had a sister or a brother. How tall they all. Details escape me. Now, their neurosis, I have nailed.

Playground Monitor said...

And who wants to bet that the cover of Afterburn has absolutely nothing to do with the book and that the characters' hair color will be wrong? That's something I hear authors complain about a lot -- that they filled in that sheet and the art department didn't seem to have read it.

The cheat sheet sounds good. The stuff I write is very short, but I can't remember the character names once I've sent it off. They're probably going to change them anyway so... I tend to want to name all my heroes Jack anyway. LOL!

I'm only agonizing over my laziness of late. I don't seem to want to do anything but nap.

Kathy said...

Jack is SUCH a good name. Not a good choice for a pirate nowadays, if one doesn't want to be accused of writing a POTC knock-off. *sigh*

Instigator, I always start out fleshing out my characters in a notebook for each book. Within it are the characteristics of my characters, dislikes, likes, phobias, etc... By doing this at the start, and sticking to it, I'm hoping this would be useful IF I ever needed to do an AFS. (May Jupiter allign with Mars. Kissing the Blarney Stone. Searching for four leaf clovers and eating me Lucky Charms. :)

Now if only I can locate said notebooks in my overcrowded bookcase. *double sigh*

Angel said...

Yep, I already do this. I have to. Otherwise I can't remember their eye color long enough to finish the book, much less months after it is done.

Just put you together a file with a list of things you'll need: physical characteristics, goals, theme... Then print one off or save one for each book (I know you have to have folders for them since you keep every stage of revisions). :)

I also do a collage for my characters (know this is asking too much of you, but I'll just throw it out there). With pictures of the models I've chosen and key words that play a role. Maybe pictures of places if they are important. etc.


Jen said...

Okay, confession time...Earlier this week I was in mid-sentence and totally went blank. Had no idea what the heroine's name was.Luckily, it was two paragraphs up. Natalie. Oh, yeah, that's it. Natalie.

Sherry W. said...

I'm agonizing over trying to find the time to write so that one day I can agonize over an Art Fact Sheet. :)

I found a character chart on one of the websites (I forget where) and it has helped greatly. When I started writing down stuff about my H/H it seem to breathe more life into them. I hand wrote it and put it in its own little file. That is too scary. I might actually become organized!

Problem Child said...

Well, I just finished agonizing over my "Dear Reader" letter for book #2. Since my editor filled out my last AFS, I can't sympathize, but I'm really loving my editor!

I think since you know what's on the AFS, maybe you could just make a few quick notes to jog your memory as you write, then keep it until it's time :-) Helpful, I know. You're very welcome. Please, no applause.