By Laura Drake
We’ve talked about it in other posts. How learning your writing process is finding your way in a pitch black room, full of furniture. You can learn by barking your shins, but there are less painful ways. Hopefully, this post will help.
I’m an organized person, so it would make me crazy trying to locate details in my WIP. Which chapter did the dog first show up? Or the first kiss? Or harder yet, the smaller details – what kind of shoes did the old man wear the second time the heroine met him?
I’d end up scrolling through two hundred pages. And get distracted.
Oh, now there’s a clunky sentence.
Wait, did I really use the word ‘jerk’ twenty-three times in this book?
I did NOT just compare his private parts to a DEER ANTLER! (yes, I did, and my crit group will NEVER let me forget it.)
Before you know it, I’d be hopelessly mired in the text, and forgot what I came for.
I’m an accountant by trade (well, I used to be - Ah, retirement) so if I need something organized, of course, the first place I go is Excel.
I know all you math-adverse readers have now broken into a sweat. Follow me here – no formulas are involved. Promise.
First, I thought about what information I wanted to capture. Here’s my list (yours may differ)
So I made up what I call my Chapter Cheat Sheet. Here’s what it looks like for my novel, Road Song:
Note that I have more than one sheet to this workbook. You can use them for a more detailed timeline, or anything else you'd like to track. Revisions usually means cutting and pasting scenes in different places, so I'll create a new sheet for my newly revised version.
Honestly, the Cheat Sheet has been invaluable for me. It gives me a bird's eye view of the entire novel on one screen. I can't imagine writing a book without one.
Hope it helps save your shins!
What do you use to organize your WIP? Any suggestions for us?
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