Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Index cards.

So, I bought some index cards because I keep hearing how good they are for planning and writing a novel. I couldn't decide what size to get so I got two different sizes, both lined.

Now, can anyone tell me what I'm supposed to do with the stupid things?


Anonymous said...


Kerryn Angell said...

I've used index cards to represent scenes in my novel. You can keep all the relevant plot/character development points right there. It's also an easy way to find out when a scene isn't pulling all the weight it should to progress the story.

Do let us know how you get on with them!

Charles Lambert said...

I keep meaning to buy a large sheet of paper to hang on the wall so that I can organise the novel I'm working on. I imagine I'll have a similar problem. Maybe I should get index cards as well, and use them to help me fill my chart...

Craig Cliff said...

Nabokov wrote entire novels on index cards... but then he also wrote an entire novel (Bend Sinister) in the bathroom.

Most people use them as Kerryn suggests - like cue cards. I did this once when I tried to write road trip story: wrote out all the scenes I wanted, and then drove the route, shuffling and reshuffling my deck as I found what could and couldn't happen in particular places and times.

It was useful in that instance, but I've never used index cards again for some reason. Maybe because it sucks the mystery out of writing the next scene if you've got it all storyboarded before you?

Anonymous said...

Oh snap! We've got to stop doing this. I've just finished writing out my novel on index cards, and posting about on my blog!
It's a habit from scriptwriting so I guess Cliff is right when he talks about them being part of a storyboard.
I used them a lot in my last draft when I was rewriting out of sequence - they helped me to quickly keep track of who should know what when. This year I'm looking at where I can simplify the story ( the cards with the most writing are those places I don't have a handle on) also I'm planning to muck around with structure and this is a good way to have a dry run.
Have fun on the card side!!

Anonymous said...

So. Anne Lamott uses the index cards.
She recommends it in her book Bird by Bird.

Basically, you carry index cards around with you everywhere, in your back pocket or purse, etc. Then when that idea you've been needing for a certain scene or character, you whip out your handy dandy index card.
That's the gist.

Rachael King said...

Thanks everyone for all your comments. I still can't get my head around it just yet. maybe I need to have another run at it when I have more written, or take an Index Cards 101 course.

Jacqueline - I had read that about Anne Lamott, but I think my notebook might have that purpose covered!