Using Spreadsheets

Tonight, I’ve actually started to use the spreadsheet-method I’ve read about a while ago. The basic idea is to outline your scene numbers, setting, its position and function within the overall plot etc.

For the first 20 chapters of Deviant, I used the following structure:

Scene Number: (numbering the scenes helps you in your overall structure as well as in your notes. For example, I’d just note: edit scene 28 in my notes, saving myself an explanation of what happens in the scene)

Time: (I have several scenes that aren’t set in the present, this helps me to keep track)

Place: (self explanatory 😉

Plot Category: (I basically define this, writing down to which subplot this scene belongs to, for example ‘Ares’ past’, ‘The Shadows’, ‘The Gift’ etc.)

Scene Description: (write down what happens in this scene in 1-2 sentences)

Purpose: (what does the scene accomplish? Does it introduce a new plotline/new characters? Does it create foreshadowing or suspense?)

Plot Step: (Unlike the original post I’ve read about this method, I like to stick to the old Aristotelian Drama Pyramid here: Exposition->raising tension->climax->falling tension->disaster/chaos)

So far this method has been great as an overview of my plot as an entity. It helps to isolate individual scenes and I already marked some scenes that I want or need to edit to fit into the new setting or add some character background to. It takes a little time to write all this down and sometimes scenes aren’t easily categorized, but in the end the work pays off and lets you keep track of your plot development.

For example: Is there enough exposition? Is there a scene that doesn’t have any other purpose than serving as filling material? Is there enough raising tension leading to the climax, etc?

I wanted to use excel for this first, but after running into some problems with the 2007 version trying to sort my booklist that I also made today alphabetically (how the heck do you tell the title and author column that they are very much dependent on each other? blah!) I decided to abstain from excel for a while and use word instead. Later on I’ll probably put a copy into my notebook, for coherence’s sake 😉

All in all this weekend’s word count is at 3.4 k and counting and I also got some structuring work done. Yay me defying the distraction of relatives with kids coming over as well as my mother in law buying a Wii and brother playing Zelda all day. Did I mention that I want to play this game really badly? Damn. Must…resist…

Apart from that, did I mention that I started “Heroes Die” by Matthew Woodring Stover just yesterday and that it already rocks? Definitely a recommendation 😀

Anyway, I’m drifting off into rants. Must be the energy drink I just had. May I just add that those things are NASTY? 8)

Question of the day:

What do I want to happen before the end of Deviant and what has to happen to conclude the book?

That’s the question haunting my mind this morning. Seriously, I’m just doing some sort of brainstorming referring to character development and general plot to help me structure the final third or so of Deviant better. I know exactly how I want the end to be, but until then there’s still a little way to go and I also want to lead over to book 2, Clairvoyance.

So it’s once more down to pen and notebook for me.

And today’s conclusions are:

1.) Make Prologue part of Chapter One, thus

2.) break up One into two chapters to avoid becoming too long-winded

3.) new prologue will show events that happen in the midsection of the book hence providing suspense and foreshadowing while also featuring one of MC’s most treasured nemesis’ ^_^

But seriously, I think I got the beginning and opening hook straightened out in a manner that doesn’t create too much confusion. I’ll also divide the book into two parts plus prologue and epilogue as far as structure is concerned.

Concluding from this, I’ll probably write a new prologue after finishing Eighteen. Still pondering if the prologue scene will actually show up again later in the book at its original place as far as the timeline is concerned…. We’ll see about that one.