Spread Sheets and Novels

#writetip I don’t know how anyone writes a novel without spread sheet. The more I write, the more columns my spread sheet contains.

What I’ve discovered writing my third novel, Burnt, is that I needed to add two new columns. These columns are helpful if you are writing a mystery novel.

One column is used for clues to solving the crime. This means the reader knows the clues, but the main protagonist might not. This is especially helpful if you write from multiple points of view. If not, you probably don’t need this one.

The second column keeps track of clues the main protagonist knows. This ensures the character doesn’t mysteriously know something at the wrong time.

For a more detailed description of my complete spread sheet and how I use it, please see:


5 thoughts on “Spread Sheets and Novels

  1. I can see this valuable in a “clue” scenerio like that.

    I use spreadsheets to keep track of planets, and which families rule them. I also list under the name of the planet the main exports, distance from the main planet in my story, and the names of everyone in the royal family.

    That helps me to keep my facts straight in a galaxy with 27 inhabited planets.


  2. Sometimes I feel like a bit geeky, the way I love to use a spreadsheet, but since I’m usually travelling, I can’t keep an office. This means I can’t spread out and post things on a wall or have books to reference. Everything is on my Mac, so my Mac better stay healthy.


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