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 banging your shins, but there are less painful ways. Hopefully, this post will help.
I’m an organized person, and 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. If you can open the program, you can do this. 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, Her Road Home:
If it's too small to read, click on it and view it full-size.
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.
As you may know, I'm not a plotter. If you are, you may start a cheat sheet before you even begin the book! Since the thought of outlining makes me perspire, I complete my cheat sheet as I go.
Honestly, this tool 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. Please let me know in the comments if you'd like a copy.
Hope it helps save your shins!
What do you use to organize your WIP? Any suggestions for us?
She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014). The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award in the Best First Book category.
Her 'biker-chick' novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin's Superomance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. The Reasons to Stay released August, 2014.
In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
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