The Page a Day Writers Group

Using the Document Map in Fiction Writing

Posted on: February 27, 2010

One of the best tricks I’ve learned to help keep my writing organized is the document map, in Word.

If you aren’t familiar with the document map, it’s worth learning how to use it. This is a great tool to help you move easily through a manuscript and head right for the chapter or section you want, without scrolling through hundreds of pages. Open it now by clicking ‘View’ and ‘Document Map’ in Word.

Each chapter or section comprises its own heading style, which appears on the map. You can also create subsections. There are default formats, but you can easily modify each style. It takes a bit of practice to become proficient but you’ll get the hang of it.

For examples, my map first looks like this:

1  Song of the Sigue

2 To Life the Veil between Worlds

As I progress, I use the map to note plot points and scene notes.

(Eden state) 1  Song of the Sigue

(S meets R) 2 To Life the Veil between Worlds

When completing the last draft of a revision, I mark each chapter so I know I’ve tied up all my loose ends and don’t need to revisit it. Looking at that row of Xs gives me a sense of completion.

X 1  Song of the Sigue

X 2 To Life the Veil between Worlds

I also click on the chapter heading of a title to page up and check how the ending of the previous chapter leads into the next, or to quickly access notes, or my character list. You’ll devise your own helpful routine. The possibilities are endless!

Helpful how-to links:

http://writeforyourlife.net/how-to-write-smarter-in-microsoft-word-with-document-map

http://www.shaunakelly.com/word/documentmap/index.html

http://www.klariti.com/technical-writing/ms-word-document-map.shtml

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/CH010267791033.aspx

Kirsten Imani Kasai

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4 Responses to "Using the Document Map in Fiction Writing"

Thanks Kirsten. I need all the organizational tips I can get. This is going to be very useful for my next project. Thanks for sharing!

This is such a useful tip. Half the battle in writing anything longer than a paragraph is keeping your thoughts (characters, descriptions, details) organized.

I never would have taken the time to figure this out. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Yes, fabulous, Kirsten! Thank you for sharing 🙂

You introduced me to this a few years ago, and now I can’t imagine writing without using it!

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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