Virtual index cards on a corkboard

Posted: September 9, 2011 in process, software
Tags: , , ,

Authors can be divided roughly into the plan-it-outs and the get-going-on-its.

I’ve tried being both. I planned my MA novel meticulously in one sense – I decided how the events in any one plot stream should develop from less important to most important, causing the storyline to progress to a climax, and had the various plot strands decided in advance. (After that, I used to daydream the story itself in a half-comatose state in that precious creative hour before actually admitting I was awake.)

Later, when writing the Lothian Dragon books with my friend, we had piles of cards on the floor, and these were numbered 1 ,2, 3 etc, and had a, b, c, d etc in between as required – ie main plot point plus sections within them. This worked well for the two of us.

I then strayed from the organised way when I started my next novel – but I’ve written about this before so I won’t elaborate here – and this probably explains why it’s currently on the back burner, despite winning prizes for the opening chapters.

So I’m reverting to what I’m sure is in my genes. With my new teen novel, I’m again naming every plot scene and gradual development of the plot strands. And for this I’m using Scrivener. Because I simply can’t be bothered to have index cards on the floor any more.

To date, I have 47 cards in the main draft folder. In basic corkboard mode, they are all over the screen in a nice grid. Which makes me feel I’m getting somewhere.

In another folder sit six plot strands that must intermesh – within which are listed the scenes that must happen in each strand, colour coded. These discrete events also appear in the main folder where there are some more proposed scenes that will be needed.

So what’s my next move?

Scrivener's freeform corkboard button (centre)

I shall press the “freeform corkboard” button in Scrivener and those index cards will become mobile. They will agree to move around according to which order I want the plot to proceed in. But what is additionally important for me is that I’ll be able to see from the colour coding whether the various strands are progressing in a consistently mixed fashion. I don’t want any to lag.

This way I’ll also be able to orchestrate the ending of each plot strand so that the lesser ones get tied up at their climax first and the most important one gets tied up last.

How could this fail? (No answers please!)

I’ve set myself Christmas to complete a first draft.


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