I’ve always been a very linear outliner. I can’t help it, I just think in order.When I working on The Assassin, I always knew the general direction and the end that the book would have, even though the details changed a lot.
When it came time to sit down and plan out the sequel, TA2 (I suck at titles), I really had no idea where to begin. I had a few loose ideas, but I wasn’t anywhere close to having a plot or an outline. My normal method of starting out with “Chapter One” on a piece of notebook paper wasn’t going to work.
Which is how I discovered the greatness of notecards. Well, I knew about the notecard method, but I had never really used it. The one time I had tried it, I tried to do it starting at the beginning and working toward the ending.
When you don’t really know where the ending of the book is, it’s hard to do that. I started out with my arc notebook, where I carry around a bunch of ideas that I may or may not use in a book. Of course, I chose red because that tends to be the theme color of my books (because blood is red and it’s about a serial killer, yeah…)
Every time I have an idea, I write it on the notecard. This could be a general idea for a chapter, or a specific detail that I want to implement into the story. As I write these all down, I start getting a picture of what the story is starting to shape into and that’s when the notecards meet the wall.
I’m visual in the sense that I want to see all the notecards spread out. Scrivener has a great feature for this, but with my small laptop screen, I can’t see the whole story arc on it. So, I use some sticky tack and the wall to form the story.
As I do this, I can pace the story out, and fill in some gaps that I see. Once it’s good, then, I take it and import the notecards into Scrivener. I separate my stories out by day, so I’ve been importing the notecards one day at a time.
Since I’ll be working on the third book in the new few months, I can’t wait to get back at this method, because I really loved using it. I think my old ways of outlining are over.