Index Cards

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    I need to get organized for the revision I’m slogging through. After some great advice, I’m going to try using the cards again. Every time I’ve tried to use them in the past, it turns into a mess and I end up with them on the floor. Anything that ends up on the floor, ends up in the mouth of my three-year-old. HAHA.

    I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for alternatives to regular index cards?



    Sticky Notes on the computer. I think some computers actually come with the program, but if not, you can probably find that or a version of it for free. It keeps it on your desktop, and you can move them around as needed and delete them as needed. It’s a great little program for writers. My Windows 7 computer has it, so search for it before searching the web for it 🙂



    This requires a bit of an explanation.

    I use note cards A LOT. I should have stock in them.

    I use note cards during revision to make life MUCH easier. As I stated in the “How do you pull your plot together?” thread, I go through the entire book and put each scene on a note card. I write down the protagonist of that scene, the antagonist, the conflict, the setting, and the piece of the plot that moves things forward (like, “finds One Ring”).

    After I am done I can see my entire book in miniature, and all at once. I can also pick out scenes that are weak because the conflict is weak or not present at all. If all I can come up with for a scene is “Sera sips tea and thinks” I know I am in trouble.

    So here are a few suggestions:

    * single hole punch
    *binder ring, like so:
    (you can buy binder rings at any office supply store for about 2 bucks a box and it comes with tons of rings. Ignore the price on Amazon)

    Punch a hole at the top left corner of every single note card and then bind them together with the ring. String works too, but I like the ring the best. It looks more…professional I think.

    Presto, you have all your note cards in one place. Keep them in a drawer when you’re not using them. The ring allows you to add and subtract as many note cards as you need for your book. Since I put each scene on a note card, so I tend to deal with 40-50 of the suckers at a time.

    You can also buy a box for them, if you think it will help.

    *Number the note card. When they get out of order it will be easier to put them back together.

    *Different colors.

    Colors are our friends. Especially during revision. Each color note card can represent a different thing. I tend to use the color to indicate how much work each scene needs. I like to use the Day Glo colored note cards. You can’t tell from the picture, but these suckers are NEON colored. At first it’s annoying, but weeks into the revision when you feel like your eyeballs are bleeding, I like the brightness.

    So red could be a brand new scene you have to write, orange is this existing scene needs TONS of work, yellow is not too bad, and green is no changes needed.

    Guess which color I use the most? 😀 Hint: not green.

    Also, if you’re plotting a book, you can use one color for one POV and another color for the other. You can quickly see which character has most of the scenes.

    *You can have a lot of fun and come to some amazing realizations about your book if you play with the order of your note cards (what if I start right at the end, and the rest of the book was a flashback?). You can put another number at the bottom of the card to indicate your tentative idea for where the scene will go. This lets you play with your book, adjust the pacing, action, etc without having to remember your entire book at once, or more entire scenes around on the digital copy.

    *I know you just bought Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, so you can also write on the note card if you wan to increase the tension in this scene, or develop the secondary character better. It’s easier to see on a note card than flipping through your manuscript.

    Like Dawn said, there are programs that will allow you to simulate note cards, but I prefer the hard copy. I just seem to get better ideas when I am shuffling the cards around. But lots of people swear by those programs, so maybe try both and see how you like it.



    Elizabeth – Oh! Great ideas. I have to tell you, I haven’t put that book down since I got it. I’ve been carrying it around with me everywhere I go. 🙂 I’m so happy that I bought it.



    I couldn’t handle index cards. Evernote is a godsend for me, because I can’t search index cards by tags or key words 🙂 But I do understand that there is something special about a hard copy.

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