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WB – Mapping

Mapping Page. (Excel 2003, in all it’s glory.)

Shown below is what can be done with a spreadsheet. (Excel 2003 in particular), and it’s not just for lazy data jockeys or number crunchers, or even the wretched beancounters of DHL: it’s also for artists, or artisans of plot and symmetry.

It’s truly Cartography, in a splendor all its own.

  • Rider:  I used to use the EXCEL spreadsheet that was included with Office 2000, but it has a niggle, in that you can’t rotate your graphics in it. Excel 2003 has that ability, and that’s the only reason that I’m using that particular version of OFFICE.

On this page, (this eSheet), is what you can achieve with a little thought, whilst drawing on a spreadsheet papyrus.

Note: the graphics I’ve used where constructed using [ PhotoFiltre 7 ], it’s basically free to use, as long as it’s not for a commercial work. Donations are gratefully received, and I’ve donated. Here are just two of my graphics: very basic, but perfect for looking down on your characters, and with a bit of practice: you can even make an alien.




She’s called Shire-[G-tuck]-Lee, and is a farmer from the planet of Karsavina.

– Shirlee appears in the books of Underworld’s Children, and being as I didn’t have a picture of her: I created my four legged pig with gorilla arms from bits of pictures all glued together with layers. It’s worth learning how they work, and yes: she has six breasts.


Writing a short story is relatively easy, and as long as you only have a couple of characters wandering around a small town; then it’s a breeze, but writing a long (ish) novel is something else entirely different: mapping multiply characters and even more complex plot lines can be real tricky.

  • And if that novel then spawns into several books, then you need a good filing system; as well as a big wall.
    • Post-it notes are your friend.
  • Best practice: is actually bits of paper stuck on the walls, they can really help: especially when strung together with coloured strings.
    • Second best option: is to use something like Scrivener or yWriter.
      • – But! — There is one hell of a learning curve with both programs.
        • And they both have major failings: as I’ll discuss in (Writer’s Bloc – Dry).

What I’ve created with Excel is shown below, and it’s my virtual wall.

Note: all pictures have been squeezed to fit, should you want a closer look: then just click on them.

Here is what I created for Jessica’s very sad time line.

And for Sam’s adventures in the Underworld.

  • And it’s as complex as it looks with having both time-lines on display.

This is what I created for the search for Abdul and Mohammed in Duesville, and here’s a good example as to why moving machines is deadly. I can’t find the first EXCEL file I ever created, and I also cleared the wall: (moving on.)

In Echo’s: (and it’s supposed to have an apostrophe). The time-ship landed right inside the Sheriff’s Office, and for the life of me I just couldn’t picture where they all were: so I came up with this set of slides.

The Optimized Sheriff’s Office Floor Plan. Showing his desk to the left, the Island where the Deputies work: the front Reception Counter to the Mall, the Locker rooms over from the Sheriff’d desk, and also the rear door to the Cell Block.

  • All the places that Sheriff Matt Branson can see, sat where he was: the man was in command, and a control freak.

The landing, and everyone piling out from the red door: which is the portal to the Acron Project, this sheet also demonstrates what you can do with placing your characters in the scene.

  • BTW: Landing in the Acorn makes quite a mess, as demonstrated by the desks placements.

The next phase, with the counter attack by the Sheriff, whilst also showing the uninvited guests that allowed him to position himself inside the locker room.

Finally leaving the wrecked office after the bombs went off, whilst also showing the wounded comrades they were forced to leave behind.

This Excel sheet shows the Old Farm House in Origins, and where the characters were standing when the captives woke up after being drugged.

  • And now how the fight back went after John and Cathy got the guns: it also shows Anabel waiting in the wings.
    • But no one can see her: she’s like that, that girl can blend into the background.

Inside the living quarters of the time-ship (the Ball), again in Origins.

  • Showing their placements for the deal, or no deal offer.

  • During, and after the deadly deal was struck.

Recently I’ve used Excel as a data-base for my characters in Underworld’s Children.

Using the TABS, it’s very easy to track and update the what’s, the where’s, the when’s and the whys?

  • What’s shown above is the six foot long Bug called Fusslooocke’, complete with inspirational picture: and all the info on his home planet of Billingham.

Other more mundane uses are simple time-line lists, this one shows Fusslooocke’s logic in demonstrating where, and how they are in the galactic trading void. (And that’s not the wrong way round: it really is where and how).

  • And finally Origins once again, now showing a simple month break down of where the characters were.

That’s all folks.

Thanks for reading, Jessica: Praise be the ORI.


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