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Friday, March 18, 2011

Learning To Love Note Cards

I read Save The Cat by Blake Snyder recently, and I loved it! Folks, it has been a lifesaver for my WiP. After I finished the first draft, I realized something. I HATED everything after the first four chapters, which led me to start a massive rewrite. Yep, not fun. Anyway, after starting the rewrite, stopping because I was stuck yet again, and starting back, I got Save The Cat because I'd been reading lots of great reviews about it on different blogs. And whoa! It's just what I needed. Sure, it's geared toward screenwriting, but you can adapt the suggestions to fit your needs. One of the ideas in StC was using something called The Board. I won't go into details about it in this post, but you're supposed to use note cards to come up with different scenes and post them on The Board. I followed the suggestions and they were great (I'm a visual learner), but I still needed something more. Then I decided to make a note card for each chapter. Since I'm still figuring out all of the little details for connecting the major events, I decided to make the cards as I work on each chapter. And this has been so helpful. On each card, I write the following:

* the chapter number
* the date and time frame the chapter takes place
* the setting
* a two or three sentence summary of the plot in that chapter
* the subplots present in the chapter(I write each subplot in a different color)
*+/- Which indicates emotional change - after this symbol I write a sentence stating how the main character's emotions change during the chapter
*>/< Which indicates conflict - after this symbol I write a sentence stating what the conflict is in the chapter

I know this wouldn't work for everybody, but it's been a useful tool for me. No more staring at the screen for what seems like forever, trying to figure out exactly what I've done wrong or why something isn't working.

Do you have any suggestions for helping out with revisions/rewrites?

20 comments:

  1. MELISSA! YOU NEED TO GET SCRIVENER! You can do the EXACT same thing with notecards, except on the computer--and keep it all inline with your document. I swear, it's the BEST THING EVER

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  2. Wow, you're super organized...I just have a bunch of scribblings of ideas for edits on a crumpled notebook paper. :)

    demitrialunetta.blogspot.com

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  3. I would love that. My three boys would most likely eat them...just cuz they are boys!

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  4. I've been hearing great things about this book. I love the notecard idea. I do an outline before I start writing the novel that sounds kind of like that. I'll have to pick this up!

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  5. I wish I could be that organized. The thing is that I've tried the card thing and, well, no luck! So I'm jealous! LOL.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience about this book. As HEather, I've been hearing about it, too, and it piqued my interest! :D
    THX!

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  6. I just heard about this book for the first time yesterday. Funny it should be your post today. I really need to look into it. It sounds very helpful!

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  7. I agree with Sara...Scrivener is awesome! It has this tool, plus many more!

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  8. I use notecards too (one per scene), although it looks like I should give Scrivener a try.

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  9. I am totally investing in some notecards! I'm such a visual person that this method would work well for me. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I love the =/- emotion idea! That is brilliant. That will really help. Thanks!

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  11. I loved Save the Cat and constantly talk it up. It's a must read. And even though I have Scrivener, I still wrote out the notecards - I guess a different medium.

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  12. I am going to buy this book - today.

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  13. I love Save The Cat! I used notecards before but now I do it all on the computer using ywriter or scrivener.

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  14. I'm a visual learner too! This actually sounds like a fun project to me. I TOTALLY color code things like that too! Yes! I'm not a freak! But I apparently cannot stop using exclamation points! Ha.

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  15. I do something really similar to map out my acts. Not necessarily for every chapter, but major plot points. It helps me organize the pacing as well as delivery. I'm seriously going to have to get this book!

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  16. I have Scrivener AND I have StC...let me tell you, unless you are computer savvy and uber organized, StC (or whatever analog notecard/color-coded post-it note on the wall system you like) is easier and more visual.
    Scrivener confuses and overwhelms me...but I'm tech-challenged.

    (you are talking to the person who uninstalled tweetdeck...it made me twitch. Waaayyy too complicated and noisy.) (I'm lame)

    Congrats on your breakthrough.
    And, your blog is looking FABULOUS. I haven't been here in too long (been busy writing), and wows...looking good, Melissa! :)

    Hugs,
    Lola

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  17. I do the same thing but in notebook form! I have a section where it's all chapter summaries and I have all of this information in one place. Yay for organization *high five*

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  18. I second that yay. Organizing is awesome. My revisions always go much better when I've organized the first draft first.

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  19. I love hearing how others edit. Thanks for sharing! I need to read this book. :)

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  20. This book just arrived from Amazon. I am so excited to read it!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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