Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the Beauty of Index Cards

I recently wrote this post about my fondness for index cards as a way to help focus my thoughts during the revision of my novel and wanted to pass along some additional ideas that were suggested.

Anna Leahy, who wrote about her work on her novel in progress here, reports, “I think I'll use your idea for my next round of revision, do a read-through of the whole manuscript with index cards handy for questions. Maybe I'll also send my ‘readers’ (my sister, a ‘real’ reader, is going to read the revision) a set of index cards. I can see how this would be good in drafting, too, when you're on a roll with a scene but can't think of a specific detail (the name of a movie, which day WWI was declared, whatever)--you could type XXX in the draft, jot the page number and question on an index card, and finish the scene.”

I like the idea of helping “real readers,” who may be unfamiliar with the workshop model, come up with a useful way to express their observations and questions. (And again, never underestimate the fun of office supplies during the writing process!)

Anna also reports that her partner, Douglas Dechow, is really taking the office supply idea to heart, thinking that “he may use index cards to jot down character backgrounds in conjunction with drafting--each character gets a different color index card; he'll write notes about each character's parentage, for instance, on one card and education on another; then, he can see parallels or tensions among his four most central characters; and of course, he'll have documentation without feeling pressure to include all of that in the draft.”

I’m totally inspired and will have to add a trip to Staples to this week’s list of errands!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.