The other day, I was browsing Amazon, looking for interesting writing stuff, and I came across The Writer’s Data-Book by Amber Florenza. It costs just under $7 and I was curious, so I bought a copy.
Writers who like to plan your books meticulously will find a lot a lot to love in this book. Even if you only sketch out a few characteristics and useful facts, the worksheets Florenza provides will be useful.
The worksheets focus mainly on characters, although there are pages to help you put together an overview of your book and even draft the dreaded synopsis. Mainly, though, the worksheets give you a place to fill out information about your main characters and the “secondary characters who matter” and “secondary characters who exist,” as the book calls them.
Among the more interesting pages, useful even for pantsers, are worksheets that help you keep track of a character’s family and pages where you can sketch out the floor plan of a character’s house or other important places.
Many of the left-hand pages throughout the book are lined for notes, and there are blank pages at the back of the book where you can draw or mind-map or whatever it is you like to do.
One interesting element I don’t remember seeing before is the concept of flavors for your story. There are a few worksheets where these flavors are included.
The book is clearly a Print-On-Demand book. Mine is dated the day I ordered it. It is available in several colors so you can choose your favorite, or even color-code your projects. The author has also generously provided instructions for printing additional pages that are easy to locate online. In fact, I suppose if you really wanted to, you could print pages without buying the book, but that’s cheating. The author deserves something for the work she put into planning her worksheets. Nowhere does she ask you not to do that, but the workbook is reasonably priced and includes those extra spaces for notes and sketches, as well as some pages that are not available for download.
Although the book is a plotter’s dream–or could be, if it included more worksheets for scenes and other plot elements beyond the basic book summaries–I think pantsers can also use it for ideas or to track certain details. There’s no rule that says you have to fill out every line, but we all need to keep track of stuff. It’s a good deal at $6.75, especially since we can print more pages. Even if you use something like Scrivener to keep similar notes, sometimes there are advantages to the old analog way of doing things, especially if you want to make sketches on note paper.
If you’re looking for something to help you plan your next story or make notes about your current work in progress–especially information about characters–give this workbook a try.