One of the most useful writing tools you can pick up from your local stationery shop (besides the obvious pen and notepad) is a stack of index cards. Index cards can be used for an array of purposes, from organising scenes and chapters, to ordering research materials. However, my favourite use for index cards is keeping track of characters.
When you have written hundreds of short stories over many years, it’s easy to lose track of your characters. I’ve learnt that I have an affinity for certain names—for example, I have named more than my fair share of personalities Eric or Erik. When I made this realisation, it became clear that I needed a quick, easy way of remembering my character names.
That’s when I dragged out the old index cards, spread them across the carpet, and put them to good use.
I haven’t filled my cards with detailed information—just a name, the relevant story, and the character’s role. But it’s enough to make sure I don’t repeat myself too often and that I don’t accidentally end up with another Eric.