Writer’s Tools: Index Cards

I love index cards. I have a Black Box o’ Doom on my desk full of index cards. Each one is a story. No, I mean each one is a story. Title and word count on the top line. Underneath, I write the date the story was submitted somewhere and the place submitted to, with room at the end of the line to log the date it was returned–OR ACCEPTED. They’re sorted by: not in submission now, short stories, flash (2000 words or fewer–NOT “OR LESS”), novels, stories sold, flash sold, novels sold and resting. I call it “resting”. What it really means is “sucky”.

Index cards helped me revise SAGE, my big fat fantasy, and will help me revise it again. I wrote every scene I liked and wanted to keep on an index card and shuffled them around until the story made sense. This time, I’m going to write every scene in the book (because I only put back in the scenes I liked) and see if there are any I liked but would be better elsewhere after all, or better in a separate book. NOTE TO SARA: I do have a copy of the book as it is, labeled Sara’s Version, which will remain untouched.

I used index cards during NaNo. I cut them in half and, on each little square, I wrote the chapter title, the characters (initials only, for brevity) with the POV character’s initial circled and the main action/revelation/clue. It should help me in the revision process. That’s my fond hope, anyway.

WRITING PROMPT: How does your main character organize things–or does he/she? Write someone who is very organized and what his/her method is.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Writer’s Tools: Index Cards

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 29, 2010 at 12:44pm

      My mother taught me early on that anyone as scatterbrained as I am NEEDS to be organized!

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  1. Nancy Williams

    November 29, 2010 at 3:20pm

    I am not organized myself and would probably go nuts doing the index card thing. I do keep notes in a word doc. so I can look up this, that, or the other thing. I don’t think about my characters in terms of being organized. I suspect however that, Missie, my heroine would be very organized in life. I mention her apartment in the first chapter. However, the hero, Missie’s protector has servants, so he has no need to be organized. The villain also has servants, but he has a very messy room full of magical elements and disgusting body parts. LOL
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 29, 2010 at 4:27pm

      Ewwwwww! Sounds like a very good villain! “Now, let’s see… what did I do with that murderer’s gizzard? I know it’s around here somewhere….”

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