Open a new Excel workbook. In cell B1, write your title. Leave row 2 blank.
In cells A3 through A8, place the letters A through F. These letters are the cues
for your repeating words (teleutons). Leave row 9 blank to denote a stanza break.
In cells A10 through A15, put the letters F-A-E-B-D-C. Then skip a line. Likewise create
your teleuton template for the rest of your stanzas
based on the standard sestina form (left to you to find).
You will be writing most of your sestina in column B. You’ll find
it convenient to widen this column to give yourself a broader blank
to fill in. Place the last word in each line of the first stanza
into column C. These isolated words will be indexed with your line cues
and duplicated down the page to create
your automated sestina scaffolding. It’s possible to break
this template, so once you set it up, don’t touch column C below the first stanza break.
Paste the “Sestina Formula” (in line 2 of the next stanza) into cells C10 through C43. You’ll find
that “#N/A” appears in the rows that have been left empty for stanza breaks. Re-create
your open lines by manually deleting these N/As, leaving those cells blank.
When you place words in cells C3 through C8, your pre-placed line cues
in column A will automatically populate column C with the correct last words for the other stanzas.
Use this Sestina Formula to structure your second through sixth stanzas:
“=VLOOKUP” If you change or modify this, it may break.
Retype it or copy and paste it into cell C10. It will automatically index the line cue
in cell A10 (“F”) and return the word you put in C8. You’ll find
it easiest to click and drag the lower right corner of cell C10 down over the blank
cells in column C to row 43. This populates those cells with the Sestina Formula. Lastly, create
your envoi in rows 45 through 47. You’ll do this by creating
direct links to the teleutons from the first stanza.
In C45, type “=C4”; in D45, “=C7”; in C46, “=C6”; in D46, “=C5”. In blank
C47, type “=C8” and in D47, “=C3”. Unless your focus was broken
in the process of following these instructions, you’ll find
that the last word to every line of every stanza is appropriately populated according to the line cues.
Now write stanza 1 with the last word of each line isolated in column C. Your line cues
are formula-coded, so you can easily revise your sestina or create
new ones. Any time you place a new word into cells C3 through C8, you’ll find
that the corresponding lines in all of your other stanzas
automatically update. Save often! Excel tools can break,
but this one is simple enough that it should provide a useful blank
for all your sestina-writing needs. When your quality assurance (QA) is complete, select and copy your stanzas
from columns B and C. Create a Word document and paste in your sestina. Remove cell breaks
using “Convert Table to Text” (found in the Table menu). Or e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the blank.