Monday, June 23, 2014

Mark Murata on Using Excel in Writing

Hey all! Welcome to another Monday Feature. Today, Mark Murata is visiting to show us how he uses Excel in writing. 

If anyone else wants to sign up for a guest post feature, please click here for more information. 
And now, let's see what Mark has to say. 


Excel in Writing


Get the pun in this entry’s title? For the first time, I’m using an Excel workbook as part of my writing. In my mashup of The War of the Worlds, I have the cylinders from Mars landing near different cities around the world, not just London, so their invasion has to advance consistently on each day. 




I also have three groups of characters in three locations. Their actions have to be coordinated, so I need to track who is doing what on each day. 



I’ll also have to track the positions of Mars and Venus, as well as phases of the moon. J.R.R. Tolkien once remarked something to the effect that he could not have Aragorn look up one night and see a full moon, then have Gimli look up a couple nights later and also see a full moon. He kept charts on phases of the moon, and also the speed of Gandalf’s horse Shadowfax.

Learn from the greatest.

Anyone else use Excel when you're writing? 

14 comments:

Annalisa Crawford said...

I've attempted to use Excel, but for one of my books, I actually used Google Calendar, because I don't use it for real life. It worked quite well.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I set up a similar timeline for my 5 book series, but I didn't use Excel, just a piece of paper.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought about using Excel.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Guess I'm old school and still use a spiral notebook :)

Murees Dupé said...

I just learned something new today.

Sarah Foster said...

I've used calendars before, but never Excel. That's a great idea.

Ellie Garratt said...

I've never considered Excel. Something to look at, especially with a complicated timeline. Thanks, Misha and Mark!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I'm not a huge user of excel but this looks like a great idea to keep track of the timeline and world-building aspects.

Al said...

I use excel to track multiple characters' time lines.
Has made sure I don't have the same person in two places a thousand miles apart!

Shelley Sly said...

Very neat. I haven't used Excel for just one story, but I've used it to keep track of things over a variety of books (such as character names -- because I'm forgetful enough to reuse names without realizing it.)

Leigh Covington said...

OOH! I never even thought of using Excel, but that is a brilliant idea! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll have to give this a try.

klahanie said...

Never used Excel. Heck, I've barely understood the usage of pen and paper. As for Tolkien, he got some of his inspiration for middle-earth by observing the locals in the town I now live in. I can understand what he meant.

Thanks for this, Mark. And hello, Misha, are you still my adoring fan?

Gary :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Something about this seems too mathematical to me! It works on a part of my brain that makes me want to crawl in a corner! I can see how it could work for a lot of people, though. I do use Excel to keep up with my writing income and expenses and taxes.

Mark Means said...

I'd like to excel at writing :) Looks pretty organized, I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks for the tip!