Now I'm working on the character sketches for which Scrivener provides a useful template. Here's the first one:
Georg Louis Dubois
"Role in Story: Father of Susan Grenville
Occupation: Cotton planter, with plantations on Edisto Island, James Island, and on outskirts of Aiken, SC
Physical Description: middle-height, slender, dark brown hair and eyes, dimple in chin. Skin always tanned from long hours overseeing work in the fields; skin around eyes crinkled from the sun.
Personality: almost unflappable; he has always controlled his world, recognizes no challengers, and therefore does not go looking for trouble. He loves the finer things in life — a good cigar, fine wines, French foods, horses with good bloodlines, well-trained hunting dogs.
Habits/Mannerisms: A single raised eyebrow is usually enough to let his children, wife, servants, and friends know that they have stepped over one of his invisible lines of propriety. When he’s impatient, he waggles his fingers, as if they are itching to take charge. when he's angry, his fists clench involuntarily.
Background: Came from French planter family on Martinique; thus a long history of slave-ownership, although his attitude was much influenced by the laws under which his Huguenot ancestors had lived. (In 1685, Louis XIV signed into law the Code Noir (Black Code), which regulated slavery in the French colonies. The law, originally conceived by French Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert prior to his death in 1683, was finalized by his son Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, and presented to the King for his signature in 1685. The law limited the rights of slave-holders, ensured that freed blacks held the same rights as other Frenchmen in the islands, and required that all slaves be baptised as Catholics. ) His own slaves were treated kindly, seldom subjected to any kind of physical punishment, and were allowed a certain degree of autonomy.
Internal Conflicts: He worried about having only one son to inherit his property, and was despondent when that son died in 1856. He loved his daughter Susan but did not believe a woman was capable of managing property.
External Conflicts: Because of his liberal attitude toward his slaves, he was often at odds with his neighbors. He hated the 3/5 rule that denied slaves their full humanity, and regularly violated the laws against teaching a slave to read.
Notes: He died in 1858, having fallen from his horse and then suffered a stroke. To his last breath, he was angry about it."
I'll be doing one of these for each member of the family, as well as the slaves who will play on-going roles in the story. They are useful in many ways. By establishing the character first, I'll have a better idea of how to write his scenes. The details also make sure that a character does not have blue eyes in one scene and brown ones in another.