By: Allison Beckert
One of the more recognizable plotting methods out there is Note card Plotting. The idea of physically carrying and rearranging ideas appeals especially well to hands-on or visual writers, though the specifics of the method vary.
Note Card Plotting
General Method: Isolate and collect ideas to visually organize.
Materials Needed: Note cards, Pen, Space.
With this general method in mind, get creative. The quick summary above identifies the three benefits to using a note card method.
First, writing ideas separately isolates the facets of a book/scene/character. Once isolated, ideas can’t be so quickly muddied up by their connection with others. Suppose you created a character for a new story who had a few interests and talents. Each of these would go on a separate note card. While working the story, it could be this character’s main traits shift from being a gardener first to being a pianist first. Placing the pianist trait ahead of the gardener trait is a clear reminder of this change to the character and it will be kept in easy view no matter how long the story may sit on a shelf. This way you won’t be going over the same ground of writing them as a gardener when you pick it up again.
Idea collection is the second major benefit of all note card methods. Not everyone works with note cards the same way. Some are super-motivated and have deadlines to meet, using cards to slot in necessary information for a quick first draft. Others treat note cards as a kind of butterfly collection. Anne Lamott, in her book, Bird by Bird, uses note cards this way. Not only is it helpful to catch ideas as you have them and keep them somewhere accessible, but the physical work of writing something down improves recall of that information. Keeping them organized is up to the individual and what works for them.
The third and most obvious benefit to this method is the ability to visually organize otherwise slippery ideas into a cohesive whole
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