Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Original Spreadsheet

So I decided not to write this evening, and instead spend the night (and the next few, most like) doing a little bit...okay, a large bit...of organizing. I started with my spreadsheet, expanding and rearranging it to include some of the storyboarding ideas from the previous post.

While I was at it, I googled "writing spreadsheet" to see what came up - maybe some other good ideas - and I found the post that inspired it all, on Justine Larbalestier's blog. Not only is it positively inspiring advice (worked on me, at least) - it's fun to read, too. *g*

That was the basic format for my spreadsheet. I'm now in the process of refining it to meet my own needs. When I'm done, maybe someday I'll find the time to post about it at length.

Oh, fun thing: I subscribe to Randy Ingermanson's "Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine" and Blog and have read over his "snowflake method" for writing a novel. In it, he mentions spreadsheets (excerpt from Step 8):

For some reason, this is scary to a lot of writers. Oh the horror. Deal with it. You learned to use a word-processor. Spreadsheets are easier. You need to make a list of scenes, and spreadsheets were invented for making lists. If you need some tutoring, buy a book. There are a thousand out there, and one of them will work for you. It should take you less than a day to learn the itty bit you need. It'll be the most valuable day you ever spent. Do it.

Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another (wide) column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene. A spreadsheet is ideal, because you can see the whole storyline at a glance, and it's easy to move scenes around to reorder things.

I had to chuckle. Also seems like I'm on the right track. (Funny typo: I typed "write track" first. Hooray for unintentional but accurate puns!) So that's encouraging.

Also on the organization agenda: character maps, character sketches (for secondary characters; I've got a pretty good handle on Alec and Elspeth at this point), subplot arcs, and more research. Then back to the writing grind.

If I keep this up (and I'm a stubborn wench, so the odds are good *w*) I should have a rough first draft by October. That's 3 short months! It's weird to think, not only because I'll have "finished" a book, but because then it will be fall and my son will be over a year and a half old and DH will be back in school (again!) and...well, you get the picture. How time flies.

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