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How to Write a Novel in Six Months, Week 3, Index Cards Are My Friends
I have read in a lot of different places how great writers always have a post-it note or index card somewhere on them so that when brilliance strikes they are ready to record it. I have also read about and talked to a number of authors who use index cards in some way to plan out the scenes of their novels. I studied for the CPA exam using a thick stack of multi-colored cards and passed it all the first time out. I took all that as sign enough that I ought to give this index card thing a try.
Here are the reasons index cards rock for plotting a novel.
Index Cards Are Portable
Wherever you find yourself with time to write, you can whip out your index cards and jot down a great idea for a scene, character trait, or even a really great line of dialogue you overhead at lunch. I took mine out to the lake and they didn't suffer much from getting splashed!
Index Cards Are Easy to Manipulate
I'm a spreadsheet lover so anything I can fit into little boxes, rows, and columns I do. Eventually I will get all my scenes onto a spreadsheet, but while the story is young and fragile I like the index card method. It's easy to move things around to see what works and what's just off. A lot of people paste them all on a large corkboard on the wall while they're writing to reference everything easily. I may go this route too, but there will be a spreadsheet in there somewhere I guarantee!
Index Cards Are Visual
There's nothing quite so satisfying as making progress. On a project as large as writing a novel, it's nice to have little interim milestones you can point to and say ah... check that off the list! Watching my stack of index cards grow was one of the happiest times of my writing life. As if by magic one idea builds on another and another until you have enough of them to fill a book. It's a great confidence booster that yes you CAN write a novel - one little idea at a time.
What about you? What's your favorite way to capture ideas?