Monday, August 8, 2011

Writer's Toolbox: Novel Stats, Part 2

Every writer needs tools to get the job done. (Yes, pen and paper or laptop, I heard you. Please sit back down, peanut gallery.) I'm not talking about a word processor, or even a thesaurus. Plotting, organizing, scheduling, pacing... our tasks are many and guidelines few. My wife and I have developed and discovered some tools that I use, and I thought I would share what I am using and how I use it. To that end, this is the Writer's Toolbox series.

The last post in this series talked about the Novel Stats spreadsheet, primarily the first page. I did mention some things that would only happen once you had input information on the Chapters tab. I'd like to talk about that today, at least to start.

We're skipping over the Weekly Projection tab to look at Chapters. Chapters is really pretty clear-cut, I think.

You can click on these images for a larger version or, if you would like your own copy of this document to play with as you read this post, it is available here. It'll start blank, waiting for you to fill in the information. The columns are labeled Chapter (this is for the chapter #), Title (The title of your chapter, if you do that- it's an optional thing.), Words is where you put in the number of words in that chapter, and finally the Planner is a very simple Notes section to help you break down your story into chapter-segments.

As you enter word counts into this sheet, the first sheet (Novel Stats) calculates your words/chapter, progress, and such. When you complete a chapter, put the total word count for that chapter in the Words column, and zero out the count in the box at the bottom, "Words completed so far in current chapter." Repeat until published. Or at least until you are done.

Now let's get back to the Weekly Projection tab.
Don't type anything on this page. This is purely information gleaned from the other pages and provided here for your own scheduling information. This page lays out each week of your WIP and lets you know how many words and chapters you should have written at each stage. It also lets you know where you stand and whether or not you are behind.
It also has this awesome little meter to show how far you are ahead or behind your schedule.

On the far right of the tabs, we find the Chapter Scratchpad. This page is virtually empty. It's just a place to help sketch out the flow of the chapter. What events need to happen within the chapter or scene, and make note of details such as POV or characters present. Remember when you took tests in school and were allowed one sheet of scratch paper? That's what this is. There are certainly much more involved plotting techniques and tools. This, like so many things, is only the beginning.

Earlier posts in this series:
Writer's Toolbox: Google Docs
Writer's Toolbox: Novel Stats, Part 1

1 comment:

  1. Hi David. I love spreadsheets! I'm definitely going to check this out. Thanks for sharing it. :D

    You won an award at my blog today. Head on over when you get a chance.