Yes, that photo is from the floor of my very own bedroom, which is covered in a grid of 80 index cards. Each card represents a scene from my WIP novel. It’s actually quite satisfying to look at. I like to just stand back and stare at it with my arms crossed and my hip jutted. Of course I shouldn’t do that for too long… Now I need to make use of them!
I got the idea from a comment left by my fellow blogger, Dawn Montgomery on my post, Writers! Back Away from the Keyboard. She linked me to yet another blog post by Holly Lisle titled, Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure. Holly has a pretty extensive list of published books, and her blog is full of awesome advice. This particular article proved very useful to me, as I’ve been looking for ways to write off-computer. Also, have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with organizing? Well, rest assured, this exercise is an organizer’s dream.
The original article is great if you’re just beginning a new novel. However, I had to make some adjustments since I’m in the re-writing stage. So here’s a step-by-step of how I adapted this technique to suit my own needs.
1. Write out simple note-cards for scenes that already exist in the novel. Maybe like a sentence or recognizable phrase for each.
2. Label by POV. My novel is from two different perspectives. I marked the scenes from the first character’s perspective with a green marker and the other character with pink. (just a dot in the corner)
3. Lay all the cards out on the floor. I put them in columns of 10 cards each.
4. Stare at them, (for probably longer than you should.)
5. Rearrange. I spent a lot of time on this. It was helpful to see visually what events logically come after each other, and what scenes are influenced by others. What chain of situations lead a character to make the choices that they do? During this process I also noticed that some scenes or choices didn’t make any logical sense. I took them out and put them to the side.
6. Make note of what events needed more support. I found places where things progressed far too quickly, and so I came up with new scenes that would lead up to the main events.
7. Add the new scenes and rearrange once more.
I found the whole process very therapeutic, and dare I say fun? Now all that’s left to do is collect up all the cards and return to my computer. Good thing Scrivener makes it so easy to execute my rearrangements! I know it’s not for everyone, but I love the comforting structure of it.
So have any of you tried indexing lately?