It's another old school tool that I use with each project--index cards. You know, the kind you buy for $.50 at Wal Mart. James Scott Bell talks about them in Plot & Structure. I've become an index card disciple, and here's why:
- They point to what's missing in my plot. Bell suggests that we write the following plot points on index cards: opening scene, doorway #1, doorway #2, climax scene. Spread them out on a table in this manner: opening, then a little bit of space, doorway #1, then lots of empty space, doorway #2, a little space, and then the climax scene. Doing this low tech visual trick showed me where I needed to insert scenes.
- They're flexible. Want to move doorway #1 closer to the opening? No problem. Want to switch scenes around in the middle so that you're ratcheting up the tension? No problem. Want to add a scene? No problem. Using index cards makes switching up scenes an easy task.
- They store valuable information. I not only add a one line description of the scene, but I'll also add the setting, conflict, emotion, and scene purpose. This reminds me what I need to accomplish with each scene.
- They help with pacing. When I'd completed my cards and spread them out, I noticed I had too many scenes before doorway #1. This is only one pacing problem I encountered, and I'm sure there's plenty more, but visualizing each card as a scene reminded me that I need to get to the guts of the story quicker.
- They travel well. I don't have to worry about WiFi or battery power with my index cards. I store them in a baggie and carry them with me while I'm in the plotting stage.
Those are my geekiest reasons for why I love index cards. If you use OneNote or Scrivener, you're probably laughing right now. I know, I know, it's so old school!
What's your favorite office supply? Have you ever used index cards? If not, what do you use to help you plot? And if you're a pantser, how in the world do you organize all that information in your head? Inquiring minds want to know!