Writing Stats Spreadsheet v1

Now available is the spreadsheet that I’ve been using to record my statistics for The Rebel Queen. (It’s free, which means use at your own risk, no liability accepted. Always back up your files :-)). Writing Stats Spreadsheet v1

While it’s highly probable that I’ll make improvements to it later, I don’t envision doing any work on it for the foreseeable future. The spreadsheet is designed to keep track of word count in both draft and revision versions of a story. The Excel spreadsheet contains the following worksheets:

Settings

There’s really not much to see here. You can enter the name of your writing project, and it checks that all of your scenes have a point-of-view character assigned.

Stats

As the name would suggest, it shows some basic stats about the writing project. One of the cool things that I’ve recently added is the concept of an “estimated reading time”.

While the estimated reading time is of less value here (whole book), the value comes out in the per-chapter analysis. My new-found opinion is that I want chapters ideally to be 15-20 minutes long, ideal length for a commute. (Though it strikes me as I write this; commutes vary).

Basic Stats

While the table on this worksheet could be deemed ‘information overload’, it is important to be able to monitor word count reduction at a scene-by-scene level. Also on the stats page is a way-too-small chart which shows chapter and scene comparisons between revision and draft.

Chapter Summaries

A more useful by-chapter view of the world: scene count, word count, estimated reading time and percentage change between revision and draft.

by-chapter.PNG

Draft Scene Info and Revision1 Scene Info

These two worksheets are near identical. They both possess a table where you specify chapter number, scene number, a scene name, a point of view and the word count.

revision

(Ignore the bad scene names; I don’t want this to be a spoiler for The Rebel Queen). The scene names for the same scene must be the same in both draft and revision worksheets, but they can be in a different order (different chapter or scene numbers). Also, the revision worksheet can contain new scenes or absent scenes. (That’s what revision is all about). Filling out the Point of View is easy, with a drop-down list.

Characters

This worksheet contains a list, and summary of the characters who get a point of view in your story. (Non point-of-view characters aren’t included).

pov.PNG

Characters POV

This worksheet is also a recent addition, which also has the benefit of being aesthetically pleasing. I discussed this in a recent post on character balance.

Draft General Pkar POV

If you have any questions or problems using the spreadsheet, please add a comment below.

 

 

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Mind Blowing

Developing a Writing Tool

A quick blog post to announce what I’ve been working on. Some might call it procrastination and not writing, but I prefer to think of it as tool development for myself and for you.

I’m working up an Excel workbook which can be used to keep statistics, plot information and whatever else I think of adding to aid in the writing process. I’m actually pretty close to finishing v1.0, but I really should do some writing so I will try to shelve it for today.

As a taster, here is the Character Point-Of-View chart which can be used to visually display how often a character is getting a turn. This chart is automatically generated based off information entered into a table. Using the drop-down list next to “Select Character” you can highlight an individual character. (This is an evolutionary improvement on my earlier visualisation).

Character POV chart

Mind Blowing Reading

I’ve been reading through Weird Life by David Toomey. Here are two quotes that describe how cells work (page 86 and 87 respectively).

To take one example, when a cell somewhere in your body needs insulin, certain proteins inside the cell pull apart a section of the DNA molecule pairs, exposing the particular sequence of base pairs that signifies one of the many amino acids needed to make an insulin molecule. Other proteins read the sequence and make an ad hoc and temporary copy called messenger RNA. Then, still other proteins work over the messenger RNA, slicing and splicing until they’ve fashioned the amino acid needed. Finally, the molecules of protein and DNA called ribosomes (the structure that, you may recall, may set the lower size limit of a cell) pull the newly formed amino acid together with others made the same way by other proteins, and coordinate with other ribosomes, all now pulling and pushing their own amino acids to assemble a molecule of insulin.

And then

As complex as chores necessary to maintaining a metabolism are, they are in some ways mere prelude and preparations for the main event: reproduction. Familiar life can reproduce, of course, because cells divide. For cells with nuclei, it all begins inside the nucleus, when proteins don’t pull apart merely a section of the DNA molecule; they unwind and unzip the entire molecule along one strand, make a copy, correct and repair proofreading errors, and, from material in the surrounding cytoplasm, fashion a matching strand that winds together with the copy, base locking neatly to a base. Then the parent DNA, its own strands zipped up and rewound, is pulled to one side of the nucleus, the child DNA is pulled to the other, and the nucleus itself is squeezed in the middle until it splits into halves. Shortly thereafter the cell does likewise, with each half holding a nucleus. Where there was one cell, now there are two.

I don’t know about you but to me, that is absolutely mind-blowing.

The irony is, even with talk of having nanobots in the future, all they will be doing is replicating (and improving on) to what our body already does.

Personally I think it takes more faith to believe in creation big-bang style than it does to believe that God’s hand and mind were at work.

Writing Plan for April 2017

Can you believe it’s nearly April? As a child I’d always heard adults say that time gets faster the older you get. Seriously, it gets so fast it’s ridiculous. I can’t imagine the warp-speed it must pass at when you’re into your 50’s, 60’s and beyond. Talk about time travel!

Back in February I made a slap-dash writing plan with the structural rigor of a house of cards. Realizing my mistake, I quickly retracted it. Just to be clear: a writing plan is excellent, as long as it’s well thought out. If it’s not well thought out then chances are you won’t succeed, and it will be just another reason for self-flagellation. (Of the non-erotic kind, and hopefully only metaphorically. What’s wrong with this world that I need to make those two caveats?)

So let’s look at April with some thinking behind it.

April2017EstimatedUsing my Excel basic writing calendar (which you can download here) I estimate that I’ll have 47.5 hours of writing time in April. Note that I’ve factored in my known other commitments. I’ve also been a bit pessimistic with this – only times where I have a >= 50% chance of writing get put down. So in reality I’m hoping to exceed 47.5 hours… anything more than that is a bonus. (And I will be releasing a cooler version of the writing calendar when I get around to making it. Knowing me, probably soon).

Now I think I can write at about 700 words an hour, or revise about 500 words per hour. I’d like to say I can do more, but until the data supports it I can’t. So with those figures in mind after 47.5 hours I should have revised 23,750 words.

Naturally it’s not quite that easy. As part of my revision I’ll be writing new scenes, but I’ll also be doing blog posts etc. And not all of that time will actually be spent writing. Undoubtedly I’ll hit problems or mind-games that will have me pondering, undecided or back-tracking on my work. Rounding down, by the end of April I hope to have revised 35% of The Rebel Queen.

Quick-Saving Documents

After recently formatting my computer I tried to re-install the visual basic macro that I use to save my documents. This macro automatically saves the file with today’s date in the filename and moves the old file to a backup location.

I came to my website to copy the code off, only to discover that the PDF I had uploaded did not play nice at all when copy+pasting. So here is a word document that will copy+paste much easier: Auto-Save VB code

See the original post for how to install it.