Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yes, I'm back at work on the Novel!

This post over at Author Jennifer Griffith's website got me back to working on my novel, Spinster's Folly, this week. Thank you so much, Jen!

What I've been doing is printing out each scene description on a small slip of paper. Wait. I have to explain that.

My fabulous writing software, yWriter5 (be sure to explore the entire software inventory when you go over there), lets me print out the descriptions of each scene on "Scene Cards" of a size I specify.

I could have used colored card stock during the printing, but since I'm using more than one card color for my project, that is, one colored card per character who has the viewpoint in the scene, I just printed the information on plain white sheets of paper. Then I cut the "scenes cards" into oblongs and affixed them to colored index cards: pink for Marie, orange for Bill, white for C.G., yellow for Rod, and green for Julia.

Now that I've accomplished that, you're probably asking "Why?"

I am a very visual person. I also need to get off the computer once in a while and "see" the larger picture laid out on my wall or floor, as the case may be.

There are gaps in my narrative flow, and I need to fill them in. Having one card for each scene helps me see what information or event I've covered. Since the visual cue of the colored index card tells me whose viewpoint is "seeing" the scene, I can also check for character balance.

The first five chapters show a preponderance of Marie's viewpoint.
Yes, it's Marie Owen's story, but there IS a supporting cast of characters, and I need them to do their job effectively; sometimes, out of Marie's sight. If I'm seeing an overabundance of pink cards laid out on my floor in any one chapter or section of the novel, I know there are other scenes to be written. Maybe. That depends on if material seen only from the viewpoint of that other character is missing. I won't necessarily add a scene for another character just because his or her viewpoint is missing from a chapter. The job of each scene is to advance the story.

So, that's what I've been doing yesterday and today, checking my scene structure visually. This step is an important one, even for a mostly pantser-writing-style novelist.

In other news, I've changed a character's name. The man formerly called C. G. Alderson or C. G. Atherton, is now named C. G. Thorne. And that's final.

I think.


  1. I like this idea. I'm a visual person too.

  2. I love the idea of the cards I like to use 3x5 post-it notes and a large white board.

    However I barely got my ms into Scrivener.

  3. What a great idea!

    Glad you're back to writing!

  4. I cannot resist my strong visual and tactile need for paper and I'm breaking out the 3 x 5's! Guess I just needed a little more permission! Thanks Marsha and Jennifer!

  5. I'm for any tricks to keep us writing! Write on, Marsha!

  6. It's funny, I just did virtually the same thing as you today, Marsha. Started out in a different writing program, but printed little slips of paper with scene descriptions and cut and pasted them to index cards. I didn't have colors, so I highlighted the edges to denote First, Second, and Third act scenes. I think I will go back with little office dots to mark POV. Thanks!!

  7. Love this. I had to do it with the novel I finished recently so that I could really get a handle on the plot holes. I'm trying to do it a liitle bit now with my next book as I'm outlining.

  8. I like your simple easy to use method. I've been using Writer's Cafe but I do believe that hands on, off the computer work gives a new perspective.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Margaret Turley

  9. I like this process. I had 3X5 cards spread out all over a wall in my bedroom for quite a while just so I could keep the threads straight. I also understand about the name game. One of my main characters had a name I absolutely love, one I would have named my own daughter had I had one. She suffers a great deal, makes some unhappy choices, and has her share of character flaws. I really like her. Unfortunately, (for my book, at least) my youngest son brought home a fiance' with the exact same name, and I absolutely could not keep the name. I wouldn't ever want anyone to even suspect I based the character on my daughter-in-law who is an absolute angel. I still haven't found the right name for my character. I've changed it in the manuscript at least three times.

    Desiree' just conveys so much! (Delicate, refined, a bit exotic, but also warm with just a touch of vulnerability---something within reach if you r-e-a-l-l-y stretch for it.) Celeste is too cold. Cecily is already taken. Her current incarnation is Claire, but I'm still not happy with it.

    I'm open for suggestions.

  10. I like the idea of scene cards too. I'm still trying to find my "method" so it's nice to have ideas to try out and choose from.

  11. Thanks for sharing this technique and glad you are back to writing.


  12. Thanks for sharing. I'm a pantser, but I like this idea. I think I'm going to give it a try. :-)

  13. Anonymous12:11 AM

    I love yWriter too! Fantastic software, and the price is better than you could ever hope. :-) Love the idea of printing out the scene cards - must try it myself.

  14. I'm glad it works for you, but it would make me crazy. Maybe a non-fiction book. I've never done one of those. I've tried but can't seem to get it to jell, so I go back to fiction where the story characters take over and I go along for the ride.


I welcome your comments.

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