Use a Spreadsheet to Outline Your Novel

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If you prefer to write from a detailed outline, an ideal organizational tool may be hiding in plain sight on your computer. View a full-sized version of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet author Michael J. Martinez used to plot out his novel MJ-12: Inception (as explained in the article “Chart It Out” in the October 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest), and consider creating one for your own work-in-progress.

Right-click and choose “Save Target As” to download MJ-12 Inception Outline formatted for Microsoft Excel.

[Note: The link above will allow you to download most of the spreadsheet used to outline MJ-12: Inception—though not the whole thing. (Spoilers are no fun, after all.) If you compare it to the novel itself, you’ll find the final product deviates from the outline in a number of ways, large and small; that’s all part of the writing process.]

Looking for a blank version to make your own spreadsheet outline?

Right-click and choose “Save Target As” to download a blank Novel Outline Template here.

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