Writer Wednesday: My Top 5 Supporting Documents #tips #writerlife #top5

Today I'm going to share the TOP 5 supporting documents I MUST HAVE for my writing process. They've helped keep my mind sane, when really I should've cracked.

5. Character tracking Excel spreadsheet

I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep all my characters' names, nicknames, job titles, supernatural type, parents' names/lineage, physical description, personal tics, etc straight.

Excel's sorting feature makes it super convenient to find characters and to also ensure I don't double up on my names.

4. Book Timeline: 
Keep a timeline for your book(s), this is especially important for series. For example, if the first book is set for the beginning of May and the story spans about a month of time, the ending occurs around June. If book 2 picks up 6 months later, that means it starts at the beginning of December, and probably shouldn't have any heat waves (unless you're in the southern hemisphere)

3. Backstory Timeline: 
It's also important to keep track of your character(s)backstory. For example, you don’t want to say they found out about their abilities 14 years ago in one book, and then say 20 years in the next (when 6 years haven’t gone by).

2. Naughty word list
Originally from Bonnie Edwards, but I've since adapted it to fit my needs and the words I personally overuse and abuse. I also put it into columns, because I'm crafty like that!

1. Editing Checklist
I recently added this to my writing process and I have to say, I'm a huge fan. I came up with it myself because I found it difficult to keep track of scene details while editing due to constant interruption (2 young kids at home)

My first draft is all about keeping my characters in character and driving my plot forward to the very bitter end. The second draft is when all the magic happens, and it's probably my favourite part of writing. This is when I go through and fill in plot holes, fill in the F&F scenes and flesh everything out (as I write lean first and bulk up later).

The third draft is to make sure I haven't missed anything and to really set the scene. This is when I go through my manuscript, chapter by chapter, with the following checklist. I insert it at the end of each chapter in the actual document. Then I print the document out (2 pages per sheet, double sided) and physically cross out each item on the checklist when I'm confident I've covered that particular detail in the chapter. I really want to ensure each scene has a bevvy of each sense in addition to characters interacting with their clothing, each other and the setting to anchor the reader in the scene.

It wasn't until I did this that I realized I tended to forget characters' clothing. They could be running around naked the whole time!

The drawback of the checklist (*sigh* nothing's perfect) is sometimes you can over detail certain things, like referencing summer weather. And I don't always have every sense in each chapter (like taste).

(pssst.... F&F scenes are the two types of scenes I almost always skip on the first draft to go back and write later. Fighting and F!cking)

Want more?

I also usually have the following writing aids close by:


Don't forget to enter the 
if you haven't already done so.


What did you think?
See something you think would be useful?
Did I forget something?
Should I add something to my list?
Comment below and join the conversation :-)


  1. I love, love, love The Emotion Thesaurus and all the other books in her series as well. I outline during my editing process so I can check my timeline (which I always mess up) and make sure I actually have my characters kiss (you'd be surprised how many times I skip over that). :)

    1. LOL! I can believe it! I skip clothing and focus on action, so I can totally see skipping the kiss and focusing on...er, the action?!? lol. Thanks for visiting Jennifer!

  2. Thanks for this J.C. I totally messed up the little details in timing etc. in the series I'm working on at present. Luckily I have a very observant editor! And BTW, I usually save the F & F scenes for the end, too!

    1. Hehehe I'm glad I'm not the only one who saves those scenes! ;-) And I'm also glad you have a very observant editor, like mine. Those are gold!

  3. You're awesome, JC! I can always count on you to offer helpful suggestions. Editing and revising a manuscript is so important. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks you for sharing your process.

    1. You're so welcome C.B.! I'm glad you're finding my posts helpful :-)

  4. I love this post! We use some of the same things. After seeing your editing checklist, I've started using that too. Many thanks! And I love the overused words list. As you know, I really like to use THAT. :) Over, and over, well, you get that picture. ha! :) Thank you for sharing your process. It's very helpful!

    1. Yay!! I'm so happy you're using the editing checklist, too. That makes me happy. I still overuse "Just" and "only". I just want to throw them in. Hah! See what I did there?!? I also like to use "that" as well. Luckily, after book 5ish, I stopped using "be able to" so much. *phew!* My first manuscript was riddled with that phrase. Ugh!!

  5. Great post, JC. And thanks for the heads up on the 'Weapons' book, just what i need. I follow similar patterns as you, especially the story timelines for my series. Got it on a detailed spreadsheet in Excel, and just keep adding to it with each story. It helps a lot to flesh out backstory. I hate when I pick up a contradictory timeline in a story, so this definitely works for me. Anni xx

    1. I just wish I’d started doing this at the beginning of my series. I ended up retreading the first two books of my series. I always assumed (back then) I’d remember the details, but I totally didn’t!

  6. Awesomeness, J.C. As always, you hit it out of the park! Great process you have going there. And I thought I was over-organized!!! Very interesting how you use Excel, I wouldn't have thought of that, when I think Excel, I usually think numbers, but it's so not true. I used to have an Excel S/S of how to clean my house, so I didn't miss anything. Excel is really good for that!

    1. Thanks Hebby! I like being organized, especially when writing is so all over the place (at l least for me)! I never would’ve thought to use an excel spreadsheet for cleaning, but then I try not to think about cleaning in general! Lol!

  7. Another very helpful post, JC! I also use spreadsheets for timelines, and make sure I put in my characters dates of birth. [Their zodiac signs make them who they are. :-)] I also have a "naughty" words list, to which I will be adding some – thank you for these!

    One thing I do when I'm finished, or think I'm finished, is have my computer read it aloud to me. I found repeated words, misfit words, or missing words I somehow deleted.

    1. Great minds think alike! I love the idea of having my computer read to me! Nice. I think I'll try that next time. Thank you for the tip and for stopping by. :-)

  8. As usual, I"m lat to the party. But wanted to let you know, I enjoyed your post and use several of those myself. You reminded me of some, I"d forgotten, so thanks for sharing! I too have the computer read to me, best thing ever for catching things.


Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! If this is an older post, your comment will be moderated before it appears on the blog.

Popular posts from this blog

Writer Wednesday: Facebook Ads #tips #writerlife #boosting #facebookads #howto #withpictures

Where Do You Get the REAL You Put Into Your Characters? Guest Blogger: Sandra Tilley

Stoking the Flames II: Tales of Legends, Lore and Everlasting Love #Giveaway #STF2