"What do I need to know to apply for that inspector's job?"
My supervisor didn't even pause as we shoved more equipment down the assembly line. "How are you at Excel?"
I hated to admit how little I used that spread-sheet program. At home on the farm, we still use ledgers, the check book register and notes on the calendar to track income and expenses. A few times a year I'd start to put the information on a spread sheet but usually went back to jotting notes on the calendar.
What does that have to do with my writing?
At home I vaguely remember another writer blogging about using Excel to plan out a story.
Mine story is done, but maybe I could use Excel to analyze it.
I could get two things done at once -- take another look at my story, and practice with spread sheets.
I plugged in page numbers compared to the names of the point-of-view character for each scene. Then I jotted down a summary. Then I got wild and color-coded it, giving each POV character his or her own color. Still color coding, I highlighted turning points and changed the font color on a couple of scenes that still need work.
And what did I find out?
A couple of possibly draggy sections really did ramble on. And on. And on a little farther. I decided I could break those up. A couple of story threads needed strengthening. And, I could probably cut off the last twenty or so pages. Or not.
At any rate, viewing the story from another angle showed some surprising things.
How do you-all organize your stories? Do you plot and plan ahead of time or just sit down and let 'er rip? I would love to hear more about other strategies!