DIY Tricks for Writers

My blog post, 5 Pet Tricks with Spreadsheets, suggests some tricks for project tracking for tech-comms professionals. For balance, here are some pet tricks for fiction writers:

“Author as Publisher” Task Lists

Author as Publisher: Planning Tasks [MS Word]
Author as Publisher: Market Planning Tasks [MS Word]

Book Scheme in a Spreadsheet
dramatic arc

Whether part of an initial plan or in the middle of an attempt to untangle spaghetti 2/3s through the draft, you can you a spreadsheet to map the plot points, action, character development, time scale, and so on.

Here’s an example of how I analyzed plot and pacing problems during an early draft of Artemis in the Desert (if you haven’t read the book, this example doesn’t contain spoilers). The top row maps chapters against traditional beat sheet goals for plot and pacing.

Story Analysis Spreadsheet: Artemis in the Desert [Excel]

If you haven’t considered story plotting with beats or are unfamiliar with the idea, Google it.
Here are the key points, where the page # in a screenplay = how many minutes in the movie:

Beat Sheet age count total: 110
Opening Image: p.1
Theme Stated: p.5
The Set Up: p.1 to 10
The Catalyst: p.12
Debate: p.12 to 25
Break into II: p.25
B Story: p.30
Fun and Games: p.20 to 55
Midpoint: p.55
The Bad Guys Close In: p.55 to 75
All is Lost: p.75
Dark Night of the Soul: p.75 to 85
Break Into Act III: p.85
The Finale: p.85 to 110
Final Image: p.110

Metrics for Writers

This is a good moment to revisit You Get What You Measure: Fiction Edition for ideas about how to measure success, beyond tracking word count and # of books sold.

About anniepearsonOK

Author of the Rain City series, managing editor of Jugum Press, and writer/project manager for eclectic technical communications projects.

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