I used to plan out and gather ideas for novels and screenplays on index cards. Great system. One idea per card. The lined side was for the idea, be it bits of dialogue, character, setting, or whatever else came to mind. The other side was notes or comments. I consistently walked around with three pens (lest one run dry) and a stack of index cards in my pocket. Family members used to tease me about it, and everybody turned to me when they needed to write anything down. These index cards were my creative lifeline, and I even paid tribute to them in my first novel, City of Woe.
When I had a stack, I would spread them on the largest floor surface in my home, and like a puzzle, switch the order of the cards around until the story took shape. Then I would start typing them into a computer file, and subsequently, each idea would be expanded into character moments, dialogue, scenes, or chapters, until i had a draft of my novel or screenplay.
Great method, and I don’t miss it at all. I no longer use pens or index cards. Now all the ideas for my writing go into my smartphone, no muss, no fuss, no squishing or losing or smudging of ideas. Every once in a while I email a bunch to myself and save it to a file, then play puzzle onscreen, cutting and pasting the deals into a usable order like I did with the cards on the rug. One extra benefit is the ideas are now already in a format I can readily edit and manipulate. This saves the step of retyping, and draws less stares than whipping out a stack of cards and writing notes in public.
The best thing about this method is that most of you already have the notepad or notes app on your phones. Nothing new to purchase, no new program to learn, just tap it open and start getting your ideas down in a usable form.
Try it, and as long as you email a copy to yourself every once I awhile, you won’t lose anything and will be a crucial step closer to writing your dream.
Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.
It’s true. I have a lot of notes on my phone for those rare times I’m without paper or pen or anything that I can use to jot ideas down on. But I guess I’m stuck in the traditional mindset and I’d prefer to have something solid and non-glitchy to jot on. Sometimes those damn touchscreens are too slow for my fast fingers and the phone just shuts off in a spiteful refute. But hey, to each his own, right?
I understand and accept all you say; to each his on, indeed. My point here is that so many of us have the power in our pocket, so why not use it? Here we have a fairly reliable way to do the one thing a writer must do above all else – keep writing – and I believe having another great tool to do that is worth celebrating.
Write on, brother, write on.