I keep both a database and also a quick-reference spreadsheet, of characters appearing in the Bunch Courtney Investigation series. Not just the major characters but also – and perhaps even especially – the minor walk-on parts.
That may seem a little nerdy but, by my own admission, my memory for names is bad enough when faced with people out there in the real world; those people I ‘should’ know, and have a total recall of their face and where I know them from, but whose names remain stubbornly lodged in some dark recess of my junk-yard brain and refuse to be brought to mind. Meaning that I stand there chatting away, hoping the name will come to me – or by some miracle be mentioned in passing and hope to hell that I’m not called on to introduce them to someone else!
It would be convenient to say this was an age thing, but sadly my ability to retain names has always been total rubbish. Memory of the proverbial goldfish! Hence the spreadsheet as an act of sheer self-defence!
My database habit is equally useful for major characters; repeat mentions – the relatives, neighbours et al; the cameo characters who deliver some vital piece of information and promptly vanish; and those uber-bijou cameos with half a sentence to their credit. They all rate an entry – not just to prevent duplication of names but more importantly for continuity.
A rapid revision of all Bunch Courtney Investigations – including the upcoming Listed Dead – revealed a grand total of 946 entries. That doubtless earns me place as a card-carrying anorak of the highest order 🙂 but it keeps me out of mischief.
(Next task will be to draw a map of Perringham Estate and the village of Wyncombe… )