Image of Clare Flynns Spreadsheet hanging on her office doorThis giant stuck together spreadsheet is hanging on the back of my office door!

I was feeling overwhelmed by the size of the task facing me in doing some fairly major rewriting of my novel, A Greater World.  I’d make some changes only to discover I’d already written something similar elsewhere and I kept finding repetitions. I wanted to explore how the romance between two of the characters built and developed and it’s really hard to do some of this retrospectively.

Solution – my giant spreadsheet. I actually LOATHE Excel and normally avoid it like the plague – but it actually proved to be a big help here. I made a series of headings – the scene – the main plot point – his thoughts – her thoughts – key quotes to support them – physical contact etc. Then I cut and pasted my way through all the scenes they shared until I had it all captured. Next I used some coloured pens to highlight areas so I could see the pattern of the relationship emerging. Once I had it all I was able to add comments, Post-Its etc and then use it to steer the editing. Piece of cake!

You could do something similar with Post-Its only – but I found cutting and pasting from the manuscript made the job much easier. The hardest bit was sticking all the spreadsheet pages together and working out where they went.  A Greater World is written using Word – and I now use Scrivener which has the Cork Board feature and virtual index cards to facilitate this process in future.

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