Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Hey Ray, do you ever wear one that says 'undercover'?"

It's funny how after blogging about not writing about weather I've wanted to start every entry with a comment about our bizarre weather.  I wonder what Mr. Leonard would think about talking about not talking about the weather?  I can see it going both ways, he writes with great humor - not the Garrison Keeler kind, but the satirical, quirky, "Out of Sight" kind.  His books are always better than the movies but Michael Keaton's t-shirt in that film, my oh my.

It's Tuesday and, despite the lead in, I won't be talking about the importance of a good hat - although Dr. Seuss certainly considered them vital.  Instead, I want to recommend the index card.  Say what?  You know, those little 3x5 cards that you took notes on for you research papers before there were
What?  It's funny.  REALLY funny.
iPhads.  Maybe you were verbose and had to use the 4x6 cards.

I used the cards in high school because my teachers required them - there was a checklist that had a due date for 3x5s.  I also used them for games and crafts (airplanes mostly).  Never used them for writing even though I'd read about how useful they could be.  The whole idea seemed silly.  Why write out the idea of the story instead of just the story?

I'll tell you why.  Because it isn't silly.  It's genius.  As in ACME index cards being shipped to Wylie Coyote Super Genius genius.  I started using cards this year while working on screen plays and I'm convinced that had I used cards twenty years ago I could have finished at least three of my books.  They let you not only capture ideas, but map your story.  You can also map your characters with them.  They make sure you include all of the necessary clues and that if you inserted something early, you remember to use it later.  They are a checklist for each scene allowing you to track which characters are doing what where and when, the nature of the conflict, and the final resolution.  You can identify what's been written and what hasn't.  You can rearrange your plot and see how it reads with the party in the first act and the break-up just before the kayak trip instead of the way you originally wrote it.

And when you are all done, you can flip them over and write down your favorite recipes.  Win/win.  To think you thought that the cards were silly. 

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