Monday, October 19, 2015

Outlining Tricks (October theme by Kristin Levine)

One of my favorite writing tricks is an outlining method I learned in a screenwriting class.  The idea is to write a description of each scene on a 3x5 index card.  Everything you need to know about that scene needs to fit on that one card.  This means you have to think carefully about the conflicts, the characters and the solutions in each scene.

Once you have all your scenes, you arrange the cards on a bulletin board, enabling you to look at your entire story at once.  Sometimes I color code cards, letting me see if I've let a subplot drop or if I have too much about one character bunched up all together.

The best part of this method is that when I sit down to write, I have a card there next to me to guide my way.  It tells me what needs to happen in each scene and when the scene (or chapter) is over.

Of course, you can do this on the computer now... some programs will even create fake index cards for you!  But I still love to write out each card and arrange them the old fashioned way.  

My current work in progress


  1. I also like the visual and tactile process involved in writing on cards and paper. Nice to know there are others out there who don't mind stepping away from the computer once in awhile.

  2. I started writing in Scrivener this year--the whole coarkboard feature helps IMMENSELY.