Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Heart Excel

Let's call the latest writing project MM for short, shall we?

I'm in MM's plotting stage, so the other night I spread my Excel wings and took the whole process a step further. Fun!

Here's what I did:

In my new-found allegiance and dedication to (ahem) structure, I created four columns (get it? Four Acts? Four columns?) which can also be interpreted as three columns for you three-act aficionados. Supposedly, a rough breakdown works out to 25% for Act I (inciting incident), 50% for act II (complications, crises, etc.), and 25% for resolution. Obviously, those are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules. For a 400 page book, you don't wanna just be gettin' around to the inciting incident on page 100.

So I tweaked a bit. And did a lot of math. Figured out roughly how many chapters, scenes, and pages go into each of the columns. Then, I inserted skinny columns before each "act" corresponding to chapter numbers. (Let's pause to visualize how cool this is....okay, moving on.)

Now to start filling in boxes, which it may not surprise you to know, is the hard part. Then I remembered the trick I used to employ when I didn't know where the f I was going with something. Write to the hook! So, I started filling in chapter hooks.

Okay, I didn't get real far with that because I'm still feeling my way through the storyline. helped.

Meanwhile, I reminded myself how tricky this book is gonna be...and why I need all this plotting structure. See, I'm gonna create what I'm calling a "mirror story" consisting of flashbacks. Eek, no! Did she use the dreaded F-word? Not FLASHBACKS, for God's sakes! Hold your horses, we're not talking flashbacks in the sense of a tool to get backstory in. Nope. But if I told you anymore, I'd have to kill ya. Suffice to say, this is two stories for the price of one.

And they...CONNECT.

Or at least, they'd better. browsed around Excel for previously undiscovered miracles which might be called upon for help. Voila! Hyperlinks! So UBER-cool!

I'm able to link from a scene in chapter one to its mirror scene on another sheet!

{Pause for applause--yes, I'm a genius.}

D'you suppose that somewhere, hidden in Excel's bountiful list of tools, I might also find something to actually write the story?

That'd be BONUS.

1 comment:

Reagan said...

"Flashbacks" reminded me of the TV show LOST...have you ever seen it? It is quite a feat, from a writer's perspective. I'd definitely recommend it!!!