Using Spreadsheets to Organise Your Writing: The Second Draft

This post talks about how I use the spreadsheet I created when writing my first draft to assist in the process of editing my second draft. The spreadsheet below is an example of the types of information I put on the spreadsheet to help me.

Firstly, I inserted a new column with chapter numbers for the second draft. You may well find that you need to rearrange some of your chapters. You decide what needs to go where and renumber accordingly. Last time I did this, I had to split some chapters into parts, and I just added lines as needed, referring to part 1, 2, etc of the chapter. As I rewrite the chapters, I cut and paste the lines into the order of the second draft column.

The word count column has been put into a grey coloured font. As I rewrite the chapters, I put in the revised word count, and turn the font black again. This acts as a marker to where I’ve got to in my revision.

The next few columns can be anything you want, but I’ve included those that I’ve found the most useful to date:

  • The main plot points column allows you to see where the story arc fits into your chapters, and at what percentage the points hit. So if you are using a three act structure or similar, you can check how this is working.
  • The backstory column is a note of where relevant details from the characters’ pasts come into play and are revealed.
  • My plot edits are big picture issues that I have identified need fixing.
  • My scene edits are smaller issues to fix – sloppy use of dialogue tags, common SPAG errors, bad description etc.
  • By this stage, I have had other people read my work. Detailed comments I tend to work into the body of the actual text, and then fix as I rewrite. This column is for the more general comments and queries that critiquers may raise. If you are a Scribophile member, this is where I put freeform comments, or the end paragraph comments – whereas the inline comments are normally incorporated into the writing as notes.

Then all you have to do is work your way through each chapter, rewriting, and taking into account all your notes. This is a good way of ensuring you don’t miss anything and of keeping your notes organised.



  1. The amount of detail you have. It’s mindboggling. I’m trying to write a post on my process and I’ll confess that your posts on yours makes me like AHHHHH, she’s so AWESOME. You’re like the perfect artist and I’m just a toddler slinging paint on the walls(or carpet) and hoping it all turns out okay in the end.

  2. You’re so organized! I think I already said that on the previous post, but it bears saying again if I did. I can’t imagine being this organized… You should see the pile of virtual sticky notes sitting on my computer waiting for me to address their issues. I should really take a page from your book (your spreadsheet?) and be more organized. If I can sit my muse down long enough to do so, that is!

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