There is a crazy amount of information in one novel. #writetip I sometimes get asked how I keep track of it all.
The spreadsheet is my friend. I use one row for each scene and the following column headings: Act, chapter, scene, name of scene, POV, location of scene, characters in scene, characters introduced, objects, brief description of what happens, revelation, tension, weather, and TOD.
Some of these need a little explanation.
Name of scene: This helps focus thoughts and pinpoint what the scene is about. Taking a scene and summarizing it into one or two words tells me whether the scene has focus.
Characters Introduced: If you find yourself moving your scenes around, you might move a scene with a character to a point in your novel where they haven’t been introduced yet. You can quickly go to the scene where they were first written about and move the intro material for that character.
Revelation: Some important information gets revealed to the reader and one or more characters. This enables you to quickly remember when a character knows something crucial.
Weather: Here is where I catch if I’ve changed the weather by mistake. This can happen if a new scene is added long after the original scenes were written.
I build the spreadsheet as I write the novel, but wait until a scene is complete before updating the spreadsheet. This way creativity is not interrupted for the housekeeping part of writing.
If you have any tips on how you keep track of your story, I’d love to hear about it.