Writer L.J. Sellers was having trouble keeping track of character traits and details in a crime novel she was working on, so she turned to Excel. As well as imparting the useful discipline of adding key details every time new information was added in her manuscript, this also had an unexpected creative benefit:
What's great about this file is that each column can be sorted individually. I separated out the first and last names so I could alphabetize/sort each list individually. So if I come up with the name Kirstin, I can quickly sort first names and check the middle of that column and see how many characters have first names that start with K. Yikes! Better come up with a different name.
This might seem an obvious choice if you're a spreadsheet devotee, but it's a useful reminder that not all of us spend our days thinking about ways to reuse existing tech. While Sellers favoured Excel, you could get identical results with OpenOffice.org's Calc module or any other spreadsheet system. If you're a budding writer with another means of organising your work (some of Sellers' commenters praise OneNote), let's hear about it below.