Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tips - The Minute Details

The most daunting task of writing a novel is keeping up with the minute details. A reader will catch the slightest contradiction in a heartbeat! Besides pleasing your reader, keeping the minute details straight ~ and easy to find ~ is also a way not to waste precious time going back and searching for something!

After trying a variety of methods, I thought, why not try Microsoft Excel?! It has an unlimited number (I think it’s unlimited) sheets available and I could do one for each character, situation, place – whatever I need! Yes!

Using MS Excel as a way of keeping up with the minute details has been a lifesaver for me, especially because I have several works-in-progress and it keeps me straight! When the characters aren't sharing, I can stop writing on one and pick up where I left off on another. I know I have all the pertinent details needed within a couple of clicks with my mouse.

Example of sheets for WIP = Ella
When I begin a story, I gather images (usually of actors) of folks who my characters will look like and save the picture to MS Excel. Glancing quickly at a picture keeps me from having to "read" the details.

Example of Character for WIP = Ella
Because it's so obvious "Bo" (from Days of Our Lifes) has dark hair and eyes, I didn't waste time making a note. Dates and ages are the important details for his "profile". But when it's not clear, or I want to make a change from the actor for some personal reason, I make a note - like I did for "Patrick Jane, The Mentalist". I also add more details when needed.

Example of Character for WIP = The Next Time Around
Example for WIP = The Next Time Around

Then I find pictures on the Internet of their homes (outside and inside) and maybe an office space, if needed. Their animals are also important!
Example for WIP = The Next Time Around

The possibilities of what to store on the different sheets are ENDLESS! It's whatever you need!

I hope this helps with your tracking of the minute details!


  1. Amazing...such a positive time saver. You are so clever. Thanks for giving us, non writers a tip of the trade. I feel like a little kid who just learned how the magician did a magic trick!

  2. You are welcome "Anonymous" !!! Thanks for leaving your comment!

    I never thought of it as revealing a magic trick, but it is in a way! Keeping the minute details straight is a major issue for writers! This is my way that works for me!

  3. That is a great idea. I was using a program called story book. I didn't pay for the pro version which has more tools but MS Excel sounds like a great idea. I like how Excel allows for pictures. I think I am going to use MS OneNote because it allows for sections and different pages etc but it is just plain white page no boxes so you can randomly put things anywhere. Thanks for a neat idea.

  4. Thank you for your comment/thoughts Gracielou! You're welcome!

    I'm sure there's a way to get rid of the boxes on MS Excel, I'm just too lazy to find out! I totally ignore & put stuff wherever I want! One good thing about the boxes however, I can space over without worrying about tabs, margins, etc and things stay "placed" where I want them!

    Would love to hear how MS OneNote works out for you!

  5. http://lilgracielou.blogspot.com/2012/01/keeping-it-organized.html

    Check it out :)

    1. I did! Thanks for the backlink! I'm looking up MS OneNote now!


Thanks for commenting, it makes my day!

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