Are you using notecards to plot your next writing project? Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of every scene.
Building strong scenes is a surefire way to make your next writing project a success. Having a targeted plan on what to include in those scenes will make it easier to do so.
Using a stack of notecards to strategically plan the goals, conflicts and disasters of each scene, can help you to keep even a complicated plot straight.
This article will detail everything you need to know, along with a few tools to get you started.
- The Tools – everything you need to get started. It’s easier than you think!
- The Approach – Connecting your scenes with clear goals, conflict and defined disasters will make every scene in your manuscript worth reading.
- The Method – A targeted list of questions that will help you figure out what goes in each scene
- Resources – a few resources to help you make the most of your targeted plotting
To complete your targeted plotting, all you need are index cards and your plot outline (if you have one) or a copy of your manuscript.
Using colored index cards can help you to identify different plot threads, and there are a variety of online tools you can use, which will we talk about in Step 4.
Figuring out the conflict, how it will effect each character and how it will change their goals moving forward – these three aspects are what power your plot forward.
Goals: Your character will always have a main goal they are trying to achieve, but that goal will shift and change according to what else is going on around him or her.
Smaller goals will pop up as problems arise and your character has to find a way to get through those problems.
Conflict: Every story needs conflict. It is the fuel of your story, the thing that make people act (and react).
Disaster: Disasters are the final jolt in conflict. While your characters may have been avoiding the conflict they are faced with, disasters force them to deal with it, to show who they are and to come up with a plan to get closer to (and finally achieve) their story goal.
Putting those disasters at the end of the scene is also a fantastic way to move the story forward and to ensure that readers are going to keep turning pages and reading further.
Using your index cards, you will go through each scene and identify the following:
- in 10 words or less, what does your main character want in this scene?
- What is the conflict?
- Who is it between?
- Where does it take place?
- How long will this conflict last?
- Ways this conflict can twist or turn
- What is the disaster for this scene?
- Who does it effect?
- How does it effect them?
- How can this disaster move the story forward while making it seem to the reader that it is moving them away from their goal?
Using 3×5 index cards is the easiest and cheapest way to get started with targeted plotting, but here are a few alternative tools:
Stixy – a free online bulletin board with clickable, draggable sticky notes for brainstorming
SuperNotecard – A limited free trial piece of software strictly dedicated to using index cards. Includes colored tabs, exporting and print options, as well as a mobile app.