Writing With Notecards

Bad Neighbors, in index form

There is no right way to write a book. It does help, though to write right to left, top down, with some coherence to whatever justifies as “grammar” in your head, so the story at least knows what it is supposed to do. Most of the writers I know either hack at it until the end story is there, give up entirely, or hand it over to an editor who can tell them which direction they should be heading in.

Often, I’m on the editing side of things which makes it resoundingly difficult to hand off projects to another editor.

All of my grandiose writing projects start about the same way. I spend a few days spraying words all over a word document that sets up enough of the idea of what I want to do. I’ll then print off a copy with weird margins, scribble out, jot down notes, add stickies to various pages until I get frustrated with the whole thing. Then, I’ll find each piece that can stand alone and assign it a notecard.

Once there is enough down on the index cards I’ll throw everything else away and start with a fresh document.

There is nothing new about using index cards. There are a million apps out there that can digitize your index card experience. Every storyboarder worth their salt has a cork board in their studio dedicated to the indexing the scenes in their next project. On notepaper, “this happens then this happens” works until the order has to change. The order has to change.

When writing a non-fiction collection – which is what this will be – index cards allows me to remove just the good stuff that’s worth a story and toss the rest away. Great stories die because they get too big.

Anyway, Bad Neighbors is done at the end of this month and will be ready to read on all your fancy e-readers.

Jump on my email list, and I’ll let you know all about it.

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David Pennington
David Pennington

Writing would be great if it weren't the only thing I knew how to do. I publish as much as I can, you'll just have to wait for the rest.  

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