Writing a fantasy sci-fi series, one can imagine the number of names, places, and terms for things in other languages—foods, animals, types of cloth—to keep track of. Even descriptions that go with characters and locations. I decided early on in Elf Stone of the Neyna, Book 1 of the Lost Xentu series, I’d provide a glossary. But not until I’d made the decision (this decision always comes, with every novel) that I was ready to get ready for the first proof copy did I go through the entire novel, creating an alphabetized list for the glossary, pulling in definitions, brief descriptions and so on. Yes, I had kept a document from the start, patching into sections the names of characters, words in a few languages, and places, names. Now I’m thinking, “Why oh why did I not create this alphabetical glossary to start with?” It feels so wonderful.
Some things I could find right along in my running document of Neyna Names. Others passed swiftly and did not get into my list. Thus, chapters later, I found myself wondering, “What powerful magical people was Shouma from? What planet do they dwell on?”
It feels so good getting it comprehensively organized that I feel stupid for not having gotten this thorough earlier. I guess I should celebrate the pleasure of it, and realize it’s a learning process. Plus, we can’t be uniformly disciplined. I went back and forth, frequently adding terms. I guess I worried a little, in the back of my mind, that it might be a hard job, going through to find all the terms. Luckily they get highlighted in Word. Also, the search leads me to notice things I need to fix.
So take heart! whether or not you start early keeping a list, it’s not hard to go through the final draft finding everything, and it’s rewarding. No matter what, there’s a give and take. Even now, as I find more terms, I need to find where they go in the alphabetical order, or keep alphabetizing the whole, over and over. In that sense, you’re going to have to go through and check it all at some late point anyway. Because we’re human.