21st Century Notecards

28 Jan

Warning: I really geek out during this post! But I supply these details in case they help another writer who wants to leave notecards behind.

When I first started writing, each novel would have an inches-thick stack of notecards. I taped cards to a wall and removed or X’ed them as the writing advanced. The advantage of notecards, of course, is that it is so much easier to add, reorder, and scrap when a single idea exists on a single page.

Even though I was an early adopter of computers for every other stage of writing, for a long time I still needed the heft and tangibility of the note cards for planning.

I wanted to switch to digital planning long before I actually did so. I tried a number of apps and softwares designed for organizing ideas (mind maps and stickies and To Do list kinds of things). They didn’t work for me.

Then I tried presentation software, and that has allowed me to replace notecards with slides. Nowadays, I plan my novels on Keynote on my iPad… unless I need to do wholesale reorganizing. When that happens, I convert the file to Powerpoint and work on my computer, because if I need to move a lot of stuff around, I want a mouse and Microsoft’s “light table” features (where all the slides can be seen at one time) are more versatile than Keynote’s.  I adore my iPad but editing on an iPad induces pain.

P.S. To plot the bigger, broader, arcs and trends of a novel, I am fond of a software called Popplet, which lets me put ideas in small color coded boxes, move them around, and connect them.

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One Response to “21st Century Notecards”


  1. My Writing Companion | Required Writing - July 4, 2013

    […] are my writing apps in action. I wasn’t sure that screen shots should count as photos so I snapped these photos […]

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