Excel for Authors – Plotting & Editing
For this installment of Excel for Authors, I’m going to talk a bit about both plotting and editing. Both subjects have a variety of ways to be done and I believe that every writer should experiment with multiple methods to find which one, or which combination of bits and pieces from each, works best.
Guidelines for plotting can be as in depth as Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (Mythic Structure For Writers), simpler, like the “W” plot. Or somewhere in between, like Michael Hauge’s 6-stage plot structure. It would take a lot of discussion to dissect each of these, so I’m not going to do it here. I will say, though, that I’ve learned a lot by studying these processes. I suggest instead that you check these out further if you haven’t heard of them and are searching for a plotting technique that works for you. If you’re a pantser, you can skip right ahead to editing.
I use the “W” plot. I’m not sure where it originates from but, in a nutshell, it’s a visual guide to your plot. The letters stand for:
- A = Goal recognition
- B = Initial barrier
- C = Low point
- D = Progress
- E = High point
- F = Rug pull
- G = Black moment
- H = Final struggle
- I = Happily Ever After
I don’t use a plotting worksheet, per se. Rather, I use my chapter worksheet as a way to plot these points out. If you fill out the Who, What, and Where in advance, you’ve plotted your story out. And, for you pantsers, fill it out as you go. I have included an explanation of the “W” plot at the back of the workbook, though, for anyone who might want more information.
I’ve also added an editing worksheet, which is really more of a checklist. Now, just to forewarn you, I have it set up so I go through my story 5-6 times for different editing purposes. I have found it too hard to edit for everything all at once. Plus, someone recently suggested going through a manuscript one pov at a time and I’ve found it to be a very good continuity check. Here’s what I read for when editing:
- Primary pov
- Secondary pov
- Any other pov’s
I explain each of these in depth in the workbook, so feel free to download the updated version under “Author Resources” on my website: http://www.laurieryanauthor.com/. Also, remember – this worksheet is a simple checklist. Feel free to re-vamp your copy to meet your editing needs.
I hope you find this information useful. Next month, we’ll move away from the story itself and start talking about agent and editor searches and submission trackers.
by Laurie Ryan