Rewrite Chronicles VII - Mapping Your Manuscript (Part Two)

So it took me a little longer to get here, but at last! Part Two of my Mapping Your Manuscript. And it's SPREADSHEET TIME!!!!!

I wanted to use a spreadsheet to separate my acts out clearly, see how many chapters I had (this has fluctuated a lot lately), and to ensure every chapter had an impact on the plot. Here's what I came up with:

Click and enlarge ^_^

I colour-coded it to see  where one act ends and another begins. And to prove to myself that I build from quiet beginnings to a LOUD AND INTENSE FINALE!!! Granted these colours kinda clash with my blog but never mind ;)

The Main Event column is for a brief summary of each chapter.  Next is the Change Occurs? column, something I picked up from Robert McKee's Story. It's another screenwriting book I highly recommend. McKee says that in every scene (which I've translated into every chapter), the mood should go from positive to negative, or negative to positive. Essentially, every chapter should move the plot forward. With this spreadsheet, I can track the mood changes and how the plot develops over each chapter. It also means I can tweak where that positive/negative change isn't strong enough.

The Events to Add/Edit column is where I can note down where new scenes are needed, what I need to delete, and where I need to strengthen plot development. It's really handy having all of this in one place.

So, there you have it. My take on an basic editing spreadsheet. What do you think? Something you might use? This is largely for big picture stuff, so I would also recommend creating specific sheets for character development and subplot development. As a pantser (or 'discovery writer'), I'm never going to be the type to fill in a spreadsheet like this before I have a completed draft to work from, but if you are a planner, feel free to give this spreadsheet layout a try. It could really work for you.


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