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Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Joy of Coloured Card

I have, rather late in the day, discovered how useful it is to have long strips of firm card on which to write details about the characters in my novel. It's better than scraps of paper or a notepad for this purpose because it means you have an excuse to buy beautiful, ready-cut and over-priced strips of card in lots of gorgeous colours. Also, because of their brightness and beauty, I don't lose them. Furthermore, the people in the novel who form a natural group, such as the main family or their foreign relatives or their neighbours or their friends, can each have their own colour. So when I'm struggling to recall aspects of a minor character's life/personality/habits from an earlier chapter, I can just find their colour and check the facts or add to them. All at a glance. (Or I could if I'd discovered this at the beginning.)
I don't usually make any lists or plans whatsoever, but I do love my cards. Just as I love my very weird spreadsheet for its coloured boxes. It may have something to do with colour. I have very bad eyesight, so perhaps I need things that stand out well.
Writing the novel, I reached the stage where I couldn't remember tiny quirks and individual characteristics, so now everything is added to the cards, if I remember to stop and do it. I also have a card for the street where they live. To a small extent, it forms a character of its own.
The other wonderful thing is that it gives a legitimate reason to procrastinate. I'm sure it's better for me to duplicate information on a blue or purple or pink piece of card when I need a pause from writing, than to wander through Amazon yet again, clicking away and adding to the ridiculously tall tower of books waiting to be read. I might count them one day, when I'm procrastinating again.



14 comments:

  1. What a good idea! I tend to write things down on scraps of paper and then lose them. But yesterday I bought a nice little notebook specially for the WIP.

    Well, it's a start...

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    1. Thanks, Frances. The scraps of paper are so useful when I can locate them, but they do tend to vanish. I hope your WIP is going well. Often a new piece of stationery gives me a boost. Definitely the cards have helped spur things on. I'm aiming for a big push with the next chapter this week and hoping I'll finish the first draft before my youngest finishes school for the summer.

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  2. What a lovely idea - I'm sorting out my office at the moment and today shredded a big wodge of character profiles complete with pictures! Then I found my index card box and was going to throw that away too, but then I read a couple of the cards and decided it should stay :-)
    But those coloured strips sound brilliant - I may have to give that a try when working on something longer x

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. Your sort-out sounds good. I love doing that and always feels it clears my mind as well as my work-space.
      Index cards are very nice. I really like those. In fact, I feel another clicking-session with WHS coming on...

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  3. Terrific idea. Now I can't wait to buy more stationery! I have lots of notebooks, which friends buy me for Christmas and birthdays, but it can take ages to traipse through them in search of that little note about such-and-such, which I know is lurking there somewhere. I've been shredding too this past week, clearing the decks a little, and it feels good.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. I really need to have a clear up too. I have too many print-outs with historical facts I may or may not need. I'm in danger of having too many and getting too obsessed with including them all in the novel. I should do more writing and less checking facts, I feel. And my scraps of paper are taking over my very small work space. I'm sure the shredder's around somewhere, probably buried under paper. It's about time I made use of it.

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  4. That's a super idea! I'm struggling with the WIP at the moment so I'm going to adopt this strategy at once!

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    1. Thanks, Myra. It really seems to work and it's a lot of fun. And the colours are quite cheering if things aren't going too well. I broke off today to start a new card for a new setting and it gave me a good and much-needed break. I love getting the marker pen out. It makes a change from typing. Good luck and I hope you soon sort out the WIP. I'm sure you will.

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  5. Great idea, Joanna - I love stationery and it sounds a great excuse for trying something new. I also love having a clear-out, though I haven't quite got that far yet! Hope you get that draft finished.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. I have forged ahead well today and reached a point where I think I know exactly where I'm going and how it ends. I really want to reach that point by the end of the week if I can, while it's all fresh in my mind. But I could be setting my sights a bit too high. I'll give it a good try. x

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  6. A really good idea, Joanna - although I'm a great one for lists myself. Happy writing!

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  7. Thanks, Biddy. I wish I were better with lists. I've tried and failed miserably to stick to them. Often I lose them. And if it's a shopping-list, I always forget to take it with me!

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  8. A very organised approach! When I'm writing a book I have notes scattered across various notebooks (though I am trying to storyboard a book I need to re-edit heavily that I started years ago in the hope to 'see' it all in front of me clearly!)

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  9. Thank you, Vikki. I like the idea of a storyboard. Although my characters are on the cards, I have a lot of scraps for random thoughts too. I don't understand why I do that when I have two really nice notebooks I could use. I suppose when an idea strikes, it feels too urgent to wait. I just reach out for the nearest piece of paper, usually the back of a rejected story!
    Good luck with the re-editing! Let us know how you get on.

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