Monday, May 24, 2010

Make Your Writing Easier!

That’s right there’s an exclamation mark in my blog title, so get excited because I’m going to introduce you to the Word Document Map. I should also apologise in advance for the quality of the screen shots, they just don't want to play nice in blogger.

I came across this a few days ago thanks to the award winning Desire goddess who is Paula Roe but I only reconfigured my WIP last night and wow to the insight it gives you. Basically the document map provides you with a list of headings (see screen shot below) that you can skip between with the click of a button. That’s right no more scrolling and searching!

What I’ve done is given headings to both the chapters but also all the important scenes and conflicts so I can now get a whole summary of my plot with a flick of my eyes. The doc map can also give you an insight into POV ratios, just add a note of whose POV each scene is in and you can monitor the balance between your characters, which is especially great for lines that are specific about hero/heroine POV ratios.

Here’s a close up which may not make a whole lot of sense since I’ve added in notes along with chapter but you’ll get the idea:

This really is a great tool for anyone who has trouble keeping their plots straight and since life’s a little crazy and I’m having trouble remembering my own name I definitely fall under that category. Just by setting up the doc map I’ve identified two more essential scenes.

Now I have Windows 7 because I blew up my computer so any instructions I give you below relate to that version, but if you’re on an earlier version head over to Paula’s site here and while you’re there check out her other articles for writers here.

Before I begin a step by step guide I should point out that although I chose to include chapters in my document map it isn’t necessary. Paula lists only the scenes which makes for a cleaner map. If you wish to do this too ignore step 4 and in step 2 you will be adjusting the heading to suit your scene headings which may be different to your chapter headings (that last sentence probably doesn’t make sense now but it will).

Under the home tab right click "Heading 1" and select modify.

This will bring up a box that will allow you to adjust the font, font size, alignment etc of the text of your chapter headngs (or scene headings if you wish only to use those as discussed above).

Highlight each chapter heading and click on "Heading 1" to apply new settings.

Under the home tab right click on "Heading 2" and select modify.

This will bring up a box that will allow you to adjust the font, font size, alignment etc of the text of your chapter headngs (or scene headings if you wish only to use those as discussed above).

Either select a scene heading and click on “Heading 2” in the home tab to apply settings or on a new line before typing the scene heading select “Heading 2” to apply settings.

Select the View tab and check the document map box.

All done!

On an unrelated note, there is a fabulous Shirley Jump article over at the Seven Sassy Sister’s blog get your cutie patooties over there if you’ve ever find yourself procrastinating instead of writing despite how much you enjoy it. It's one of those articles you print off and stick beside the computer so don't miss it!



Kaily Hart said...

Lacey, great tip. I've used the document map extensively for technical documentation but for some reason never thought about it for organizing a WIP. Will definetely see if it helps me!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Hey, Lacey, this is FAB!! I'm forever scrolling back and forth. What a cool thing. Thanks for sharing this.
Oh and thanks for a sister shout-out. Shirley's article is great eh?

Lacey Devlin said...

Kailey - I completely separate creative and academic writing in my mind too.

Jackie - No problem! I'm pretty thrilled that Microsoft had taken pity on my scrolling index finger. It'll make editing so much easier, although it makes me wonder what other features I've overlooked.

abbi said...


This is soooo cool! Am going to give it a try on my current WIP. Thanks for sharing.

Certainly does deserve an exclamation mark.


Anonymous said...

Great tip, Lacey! Thanks for sharing! Will have to check it out! xxx

Suzanne Jones said...

This is BRILLIANT. I didn't even know I could do this - and all explained in easy steps even I can follow. You are a genius.


Lacey Devlin said...

No problem at all! Let me know what you think!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Whoa, cool. I will have to try this.

Angie Peters said...

This is fantastic, Lacey! Thanks for sharing. I'm such a disorganised person so this is a blessing :)

Nicola said...

Thank you! I had discovered that but didn't understand how it worked - now I do. Brilliant!

Kerrin said...

now all i need do is figure out how to do it in Pages for the Mac! awesome!!

Lacey Devlin said...

I have next to no experience with a Mac so good luck Kerrin! Are there any other Mac users out there?

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