Lanetta J. Sprott

An invaluable writing tool = MS Excel

Posted on: June 24, 2009

I tried various pen & paper methods to keep up with characters while writing Where Forever Begins – index cards or a notebook with dividers per character, to name a couple. When writing Finding Closure I made a “character” folder in MS Word with a document for each person.

From the beginning of my current project, Ella, I have used MS Excel. With Excel I can open up one document and make however worksheets I need for each character. Tabs are renamed appropriately beginning with Ella’s. The final tab, “Extras” have the names & physical descriptions that are important to some extent, but the characters have minimal speaking roles. I do need, however, to keep up with them!

The individual worksheets contain as much information as necessary to develop and build the character. For example, some of the things I include:

  • A picture of someone (an actor or family member) that fits my mental image of that particular character. All my characters, even the extras, have photographs in addition to written physical descriptions. It makes it very easy for me to click on a character’s worksheet and glance at the picture when I mention eye color or complexion in Chapter 25 and hadn’t since Chapter 10!
  • Dates important to the story, such as birth, marriage, death, or moving are listed.
  • Some characters’ worksheets include a picture of their vehicle, where they work, what their home looks like.
  • Character traits/quirks are also listed on the appropriate worksheet.
  • Minor, yet critical, details to maintain consistency and accuracy, such as a pet that a character may have is also kept on the person’s worksheet. I have had to ask myself, “What was her dog’s name?”
  • A couple of my characters are professionals, with office staff. I place the staff on the professional’s page rather than in the “extras” worksheet.
  • Possibilities are endless. MS Excel works beautifully for me! I love opening one document and having each character at the click of a button!

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    2 Responses to "An invaluable writing tool = MS Excel"

    Thanks for the idea. I have Word folders with all this information in different files for each character, but maybe I could tidy up this way. I know nothing about Excel, but one of my sons loves creating spreadsheets.

    You’re welcome! Hope it helps!

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    Native Texan living in the Hill Country writing and experiencing life one day at a time.

    Novels by Lanetta J. Sprott:

    Where Forever Begins Finding Closure

    Where Forever Begins, A Simple Love Story and Finding Closure are available online at Lulu and Amazon.

    ~

    Read a preview of both novels here.

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    New goal (to finish book): 95,000

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