Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If My Head Weren't Attached...

Lose it, I would.

So do you want to talk about memory?

Look! A Squirrel!

No, but seriously. I used to have one.

I no longer do.

I blame motherhood. Specifically, I blame my son. Child 2. I had one until he was born. Call it a testosterone incompatibility. Call it direct transference (he's a very smart boy). Call it the stress of two children. But it's GONE. Se fue. Finite. Kaput.

What were we talking about?

Oh, right. The trouble of memory insufficiency and writing. (Well, not really, but I forgot my original point, so this one will do).

Did you know I've had scenes turn up three times in the same manuscript? They were REALLY GOOD SCENES. But probably once was enough. I just forgot I did it already. Twice.

So what's a girl to do? (boys, too, though I don't see as many guys with memory issues—I think they tend not to be torn in as many directions... just to stereotype and generalize a bit)

1) Beat Sheet. Now I hear people use these and don't know if mine are the SAME, but what I do with mine is write one line for each scene... what is the MAIN action of that scene. (it helps trigger my memory as I go on, and it helps me FIND something if I need to go in and change.

2) Character list. Just like it sounds. Because the BIGGEST memory snafu I have is forgetting what I've named all my secondary characters. (and plot notes)

3)  Write FAST. Memory is far less an issue in a WriMo, where the novel is finished in a month than it is if the novel takes six months or nine months.

4) RE-read. I do this for revisions. Oh yeah... I can't resist keeping a pen in my hand for simple typo/wording stuff, but before I make plot changes, I read beginning to end so I know what's what.

5) Critter help. TELL your critique partners you could use help spotting inconsistencies. This is easier to spot the first time you ever read a book than when you know the thing inside out. When you KNOW it, then the right way is in your head and you will just think you did it that way.

Any of you have tricks for faulty memories?


  1. These are all great tips! I have the same affliction. :)

    I have a cheat sheet for previous books in the series. And I use the style sheets religiously!

  2. Squirrel! LOL! Naked squirrel!!!

    But when I did Nano - it really forced me to just write like the wind and also to not think, just do!

    Take care

  3. It is that Thing Two thing. I had one too, before I had him. Hold it, what did I have?

  4. A beat sheet and writing fast help. I've still had tiny scenes, or rather little paragraphs, repeat. Did it in my last manuscript. No idea what happened and I can't blame kids!

  5. I've had that problem too, where you're writing and you're not sure if you've already written that scene. It sounds familiar, but this is where you plotted to write it, so you must be hallucinating that you've already written it. But when you read through the first draft, you discovered that yes you have indeed not just writing one or twice, but actually three times. :P

  6. Oh, you're singing my song. Like the Beat sheet.

    Oh, look, it's a butterfly.

  7. thankfully I haven't rewritten scenes - yet - but I do forget secondary character's names and traits so make notes as I go. In fact, I was doing this last night for my current wip which has a lot of secondary characters to keep track of.

  8. Hi Hart, thanks for the tips.

    I gave you an award on yesterday's post, if you want to take a look. It is for leaving thoughtful and encouraging comments, and just helps with a shout-out to your blog and some of my other friends too.

    Kathy M.

  9. Writing fast! I did it with this last book and it made such a difference. I felt like I didn't lose the threads nearly as much and I see such a difference now that I'm almost through the first edit. I used to have a memory. Glad I'm not the only one who feels like it's slipping away.

  10. I say get pharmaceutical help. Everyone else is doing it.

  11. My own habit is to re-read the last section I wrote before I continue, and that seems to make a difference and help with the flow. But while I don't do multiple scenes, I have some ridiculous inconsistencies I never catch until the very end.

    As a working mother/writer/naked superwoman, you probably have to multitask a lot and multitasking (which I despise) has been shown to hurt short-term memory. Meditation is supposed to help.

  12. To-do lists save me. If I can write it down, I remember, even if I don't look at the list again. Plus I drink energy drinks that are loaded with B-12 and that is excellent for the brain.

  13. Boy do I need cheater sheets. I use everything to help me.

    I am going to try Diane's B-12 suggestion. The only thing is there are things I DON'T want to remember- so I have to be careful.


  14. This is really helpful for me since I lost my memory after Thing 3. I find myself repeating things lately too. I suppose it's our way of trying to remember what's important. *cries over lost memory*

  15. I wish I did have some tricks :) my memory is terrible

  16. All great tips! And I agree writing fast is important - I have been editing a bit a week, but not every day, and it isn't working out that well. ;) I need to just work steadily on one project at a time I think.

  17. What a funny blog! And here I was suffering in silence with my feeble, old brain, thinking I was the only one! Thank you Hart, for baring your soul for us just to make me feel better about myself.
    One tactic I do employ, is I use my first child, who stole my incredible memory from me eleven years ago, and I make her read my manuscripts. She then uses my lovely, thieved memory like it was her own, and points out repeats, scene inconsistencies and other things that I've muddled up. She doesn't miss a trick.
    ~Just Jill

  18. LOL- I am so GUILTY of this. No mas memory over here- I believe mine slipped out right along with child #3. LOL

  19. I've found I often use a turn of phrase or simile/metaphor, thinking it's exceedingly clever or fantastic prose, only to learn later it was the second or third time in the manuscript. So yeah, I know how you feel. (Though, since I'm a guy... results not stereotypical.)

  20. By the way, I'm tempted to repeat some of my last comment for comic effect, but I'll spare you. (Especially since none of it was particularly clever or fantastic.) You're welcome.


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