SQL for Sequels

Mixing my topics today and probably confusing everyone in the process including me.

SQL stands for Structured Query Language a method of querying databases to find results but often used to describe the database itself. It is normally pronounced sequel hence the connection.There are several databases that call themselves SQL including Microsoft’s larger server based system, right down to SQLite Personal Edition running on various operating systems. Why is a SQL database on my mind? Because my sequels are causing me problems.

Part Three of the Demise Conspiracy, An Agent’s Prize, Part Two of The Observer Series, Intervention and an as yet unnamed sequel to To The Survivors currently named TTS2 by file name. What has this to do with databases. Characters that is what. Characters and timelines and scenes. Of course it’s all my own fault for trying to write several books (not just these) at the same time, but now I have added to my problem. Which character appeared, when, in which book, and do I need to explain their role or half the story of the earlier parts.

As I have previously blogged, I use Scrivener to write and it is an excellent system to list characters and scenes within a manuscript. I have tried importing all the characters over from the earlier parts but that just makes the lists longer. What I need is a clever database that tells me when, where and in what context I wrote about the character or the scene. In other words i need to add all the meta-data and link all the appearances of the character in Scrivener. I also need to know how much I should cover of the earlier story in order to have the current actions make sense. Not sure any tool can help with that. Many might say it did not make sense in the first parts!

Currently, I end up re-reading long sections of the earlier books, using Scriveners’ tool set to find the relevant section, but then comes the real problem. I end up wanting to change the original for grammar, construction or even plot to fit in with the next part’s scene. Oh if only I had written it differently, called the character something else, not killed off xx. God knows how longer series writers manage. Did  J K Rowling have a database of Harry Potter characters? Now if I had a database of all my ideas, characters etc there would be one place to go. This would avoid one section I just had to change where I used the same character name in two different manuscripts.

So clever database designers get on it. Get me a SQL database with the right easy to use queries so that I can look it all up. My writing would increase in speed, I could effortlessly cross reference and the world would be a better place.

Of course I could just get better organised get the sequel written without SQL at all.

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4 thoughts on “SQL for Sequels

  1. One novel I’m writing now covers about 5 generations in 3 different intersecting and intermarrying families. I used a genealogy program to keep the timelines straight to augment to character profiles in Scrivener

    • Any particular recommendation on the genealogy software – I looked at the family history ones but I have a complex relationship chart – without weddings and funerals for one story. So far I have just used a diagramming tool. I could do with something else. I have use Aeon Timeline to link to calendars but that is not always successful – need to experiment more especially as it synchronizes with Scrivener

      • I use Reunion, which is Mac based. I already had it for my family tree work, so it was a no brainer. Family Tree Maker was what I used on Windows. For this sort of thing, you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, just something fundememtal. Even a cork board will do. You also don’t have to be anal about it from book to book. Faulkner wasn’t, and he used the same characters and location for much of his work.

  2. Thanks I’ll check out reunion, but as you say no need to go mad. It’s te sequel to To the Survivors that’s causing this problem – many different breeding lines that I need to keep track of. Only a few males around and many more females.

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