Tracking Your Characters

My historical fiction middle grade novel has the largest cast of characters of any of the books I’ve written. Like, five times more. You do the math.

I didn’t have to do anything to keep track, but a circus has a lot of characters…even a small mud show like the one I’m writing. So I’ve moved to a spreadsheet. Right now the characters are listed in the order they appear in the book.

It helps. It really does. Yesterday I was having Ringmaster have a conversation with one of the circus hands, but I didn’t know who that should be. I didn’t want to add another character.  (I’m actually hoping to cull some people from the final document when it’s done.) All I had to do was pull open my spreadsheet, scroll down, and figure out it was Joe.

On her blog, Darcy Pattison  

suggests a number of ways to keep track, but she mentions eye color. You can’t have your main character’s eyes changing color unless it’s some fantasy world where that can happen.

I don’t think I mention anyone’s eye color in my circus novel, but you might! Here’s a handy image to help you:

You also might want to check out ‘s post regarding memorable characters. If you make your characters unique, your reader will keep track of hundreds of characters.  Check it out here:


What’s your favorite way to keep track?

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