When you were in school, you might have used flashcards to help you remember important information for a test. Whether it was for history, vocabulary words or even science equations, these little notecards kept you organized and helped you recall the information you needed in order to do well on your exam.
Well notecards are back, but this time they’re being used to help you write your book!
Today we’re going to cover what is known as the notecard method. With this method, you’ll virtually be stripping your story down to its studs. Let’s dive right into the content that will live on these notecards.
Begin by writing down every nuance of the story that you already have planned in your mind. This can be the backstory, main characters, setting, scenes, etc. When writing these ideas down, make sure that you’re writing in large and legible handwriting. Also, make sure that each of these ideas is on its own notecard. You don’t want to mix and match ideas on the same notecard in an effort to avoid any confusion, so stick with one idea per one notecard.
If you’re working on a character card, make sure to include every bit of information that you want to integrate into the story. Whether it’s nervous habits, hair color, religion or personality traits, no detail is too big or too small. Write it down!
Now that you’ve written down the main points of your novel, it’s time to organize these notecards into piles. To get you started, here are a few examples of the piles that you can create to categorize your notecards:
- Additional information
It’s time to order your cards into a cohesive stream of events. The order that you place your cards in the beginning doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone – it can be adjusted. Break your cards down into chapters or scenes, or organize them in a way that showcases your novel’s progression. When working through the plot and ordering the cards, simply put a small number in the corner. We suggest doing so in pencil in case you need to erase. Once you have a general framework in order, it’s time to move to the next step.
If you’ve ever watched a mystery television show or movie, you’ve likely seen the detectives working through a case by looking at a wall filled with information that will help them solve the case. Take this same idea and apply it to your efforts. Either pin the notecards onto a corkboard so that you can see each card clearly, or lay them out on a table by your writing station so that they can be easily accessed. Go through each category that you’ve created, pick a notecard/topic and begin working on that information. If you’re having trouble choosing, pick a notecard that offers an integral piece to your novel’s puzzle. Ask yourself, “What has to happen in order to reach the climax of my story?” Your answer will be the notecard that you tackle first. Repeat this step over and over again to help you write your story. If you get stuck, like we mentioned before, the order of your notecards isn’t permanent; re-order and keep working!
The notecard technique will allow you to move the cards around in an order that best suits your novel. It’s a visual experience that will help you see the various parts of your novel in front of you, which makes it easy for you to recognize the structure and progression of your story and how to naturally transition from chapter to chapter without missing any pertinent information.