Progress report: cards

When last I was here I talked about getting into the habit of using index cards– for quick notes, for organizing thoughts, and eventually for getting visual feel for a story.  Since I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head right now, I set a goal for 10 cards a day.

10 cards has been a good amount for me.  Not so many that I’m scribbling for hours, but enough so I feel like I’ve done something.  I now have 30 cards since Saturday.  A handful of them are from a different story that intrigues me, so it’s cool to be able to make some notes on that without jumping right into “sexy new book”.

Some of my cards are for scenes I can see and have a number of points jotted down.  Some are much more vague: need scene where X happens.  Some are plant cards that will probably be merged with another scene card later: need to plant idea Y that pays off later when…

I just started reading Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress, so I will probably have some cards on character notes coming along this week.  I have a lot of character stuff written here and there and I don’t plan to copy that stuff to cards.  But I expect to have ideas about several characters in my world and it will be good to jot down notes someplace besides gmail to Kettle.

I’m really enjoying the craft books this year.  I just finished Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell (part of the same Write Great Fiction series).  Kettle bought that one for me for Christmas (I sent her GMC which I also ended up buying for myself), having heard good things about a few books in the series.  To me it was good enough and different enough from other craft books I’ve read or glanced through that I’m intrigued enough to continue in the series.  I should start a page of some reviews of these…

Anyway, a last quick note on the subjects of cards and P&S: At the end of the book, Bell likened building writing skills to building chess skills.  He suggested an exercise in which you read through a book for the pleasure of reading it.  Then you pick it apart, taking copious, scene-by-scene notes on index cards, noting down things that worked for you and didn’t, etc.  You’ll learn by doing the exercise, have the cards for later review, lay out the scene cards to see the structure of the novels, etc.  His exercise has 10 steps which I’m not going to wholesale copy for you (because that’s not nice) but that’s the gist of it.  He suggests doing this for 6 books over a 12-week period.  Time-consuming yes, but learning often is, and I’m intrigued.  I will try it for at least one and see how it goes.

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Filed under books, craft books, ideas, progress update, tools, writing

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