Wow, have I ever learned that the hard way! In my novel, ‘Moon over Berlin, Sun over Santorini,’ I have quite a few Soviet military characters with three names each, military rank, and preferred nickname.
If I didn’t organize all that somehow, I’d be doing nothing but search around for details when I write.
I’m in between a planner and seat-of the-pants writer, in that I’m open and even enthusiastic about letting my characters take me places that my outline didn’t foresee. But I try to stay organized no matter what. Because once I sit down to create, I wanna be able to create and not be my own research assistant.