Aside

Note Cards and Outlines

I have a very simple and complex way of writing. Simple because I sit down with pen and paper and just write. I write what is flowing through my mind, it streams down the nerves and muscles into my hand, where the words drain into ink form and splatter across the page. Nothing convoluted about the process. However, the complex part begins soon after.

Many of the other writers I know, including those who teach the subject, tout the almost sublime attributes of a good outline. Most use a distinct outline format of flow charts, bulleted lists, painstakingly drawn out maps of characters and places, and the occasional snap shot. I don’t do that. If I begin an outline, I invariably forget the part about ‘outlining’ and begin the actual story. I sometimes make it as far as a second bullet on the list before sentences start spurting out, but not often.

No, the complexity of my work begins somewhere in the middle of a first draft. My characters are in the midst of a big action sequence (or a long, drawn out flight) and I suddenly can’t remember who stayed in England to begin with; and that is where the notecards come in. I have stacks upon stacks of notecards for each book. Cast of Characters in a conveniently numbered and color coded pile, followed by important places, car/house/business/ship names, pet names, and every once in a while, a quote so that I don’t forget to put it in.

Line after line scrawled on 3×5 squares in varying shades of bright ink with little numbers circled in the upper right hand corners so I don’t get them out of order. TWO note card holders busting at the seams in an attempt to contain them all, and I still forget a name from time to time. I suppose even notecards do not make my brain perfect (although I am close to it…if I do say so myself!).

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My actual notecards for the newest Stone Dragon Saga book. Begun around midnight last night…I don’t think they’ll fit in the green holder.

Do you have any certain ways of keeping yourself organized? I would love to hear how you do it!

 

 

 

 

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