How to Keep Up With the Details in Your Manuscript

As I’ve said before, writing  “The End” on the first draft is only the beginning of your work on the road to publication. One of the things I discovered, immediately after completing a 77,000 + word draft, is keeping up with the details, even with Scrivener, seems like a monumental task.

When did that character show up? Are the descriptions consistent? Does the timeline make sense? Do I need to name that character? Is the character necessary? And, so on. There are more details to keep track of than one imagine when you begin writing your story. 

So here are a few spreadsheets I’ve come up with to help me. Feel free to copy the format, should you find these helpful.

  • Character Appearance Spreadsheet –  Scene by scene. At a glance I can see where every character, including minor ones, appear in the novel. An * designates an active character and an ‘M‘ a walk-on or character mentioned in a conversation. This allows me to see the flow of the story, spot minor characters that I may not need to name, need at all, or POV inconsistencies.

  • Character Map – includes every character (named or unnamed) and where they first appear in the novel;  their role, descriptions (from anywhere in the manuscript), occupation, relationships, meaningful repetitions, and notes. Again, this had provern helpful in spotting holes, inconsistencies, or help with character attributes and descriptions.

  • A setting and Timeline Spreadsheet – a list of the settings and timeline the story is taking place. It also includes descriptions of the setting (used anywhere in the manuscript), and the relationship the setting has to the character.  At a glance, I can tell whether I’m being redundant, inconsistent, or lack descriptions in my settings. It is also, a great way to see the holes in the timeline.


  • The Threads Map – Scene by scene, I  list the relationships revealed, useful repetitions, unusual phrases/words/references with meanings, threads I need to carry throughout the story, and any  notes on holes or things I need to follow up on during edits and rewrites. Helps me spot holes or unanswered questions, immediately.

Hope you will find these helpful and should you have suggestions for how you keep up with the details, please share it with us.


I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.