I believe in the power of the right tools. I believe in organization and planning.
I believe…in index cards.
Now that I’m back on the outlining train, I’m going full throttle. Which means magical, wonderful, story cards.
Here’s the thing: every scene should add something to your novel. Consider it this way, if you were reading a book and stumbled across a bunch of scenes that added nothing to the plot, that’d be a pretty boring book. Chances are, you’d put it aside. And no one would blame you.
So why would you want to risk that with your own book which, presumably, you’ve worked on for a very, very long time?
(And by you, I mean me. And also you. It’s a very inclusive “you.”)
Right now, my MS has hit a wall and is in dire need of a plot overhaul. Hence the crazy outlining (which is going tremendously, I must say. Why did I ever give it up? Why??). And the next step is going through what’s already written (which is a fairly daunting 60k) and breaking it down scene by scene via index cards.
Neon multi-colored index cards, ’cause that’s how I roll.
Here’s the plan:
Step one: read through the manuscript very…very…slowly.
Step two: record each scene on its own index card. Include a 1 sentence summary of the scene, a break it down into what it adds to the plot, character development, and theme of the book.
Step three: study each card. Take note of which scene cards are weak in the plot/character development/theme areas. Toss scenes that don’t add anything new or valuable in those areas.
Option step four: rearrange cards to get the best/most interesting order to the scenes. Because it’s fun to shuffle index cards.
Ideally, by the end of this project of playing with my scenes, I’ll have a clearer sense of all the beats in my novel, and how to go forward past the word block. Worst case scenario, I’ll have a pile of neon cards covered in illegible handwriting.
But in either case, I’ll have a clearer sense of all the beats in my novel (well, all the beats thus far…I’ve still got 15% of the story to still write). And that’s what’s really important.
So that’s my project for the week: scene card games. Shuffling plot to write my way out of a hole.
Like I said, nothing better than office supplies.
Sound off in the comments: what writing tool can’t you live without?