So we all already know I'm a dork, but I am about to bring that realization to a new level. I luuuurve index cards for writing.
Actually, I pretty much love them for everything; they're just the absolute perfect size!
Whenever I'm working on a longer project, I like to use index cards to help organize. I do use yWriter for the actual computer writing-and-organizing part, but at the earlier stages in the writing process, it really helps for me to have a visual aide.
I break the book into acts--this time around I'm going with a five-act structure. At the top of five index cards, in big, pretty scribble, I mark the number and the name of the act. Each card gets a different color of marker. I use Sharpies--another office supply love.You do not want to let me loose in a Staples or Office Depot unattended. Believe it or not, I'm totally serious about this.
On those ACT cards, I mark the following, in their respective Sharpie colors: "Status," "Chapters," "Scenes," "Descript" and "Outcome." I fill in the blanks as I organize, but using pencil. "Status" doesn't get filled in until I begin actual typing, the "Chapters" and "Scenes" headings are to keep track [by tally marks] of how many of each I have in any given act, and the "Descript" and "Outcome" are self-explanatory.
Then I begin organizing each act, by chapter. At this point, I'm in the pencil-only stage. Each new index card will get its own chapter, but those chapters will remain unordered and relatively blank, save for a one-or-two line description. I move from act to act, creating chapters and rearranging index cards until everything flows well from one thing to the next. Once I have everything squared away, those chapter cards will become official, with big pretty color-coded Sharpie markings to match the act in which they belong. While I'm making these official, I usually refer back to the ACT cards to make adjustments.
Each official CHAPTER card will then be marked with "Status," "Scenes," "Descript" and "Outcome," just like before. These will be filled in with pencil as I decide the content of the chapter, and on the back side, also in pencil, I'll make bullet notes of what scenes will be included. Eventually, those scenes will also have their own color-coded index cards, with information about theme, setting, characters, and so on and forth.
When I'm not using them, each color coded packet of cards gets clipped together. When it's time to write, I pin them all on a big cork board, right next to my laptop. The ACT cards go at the top from left to right, the Chapter cards in a line below their respective ACT cards, and then the SCENE cards get stuffed between the CHAPTER cards and the cork board so I can pull them out as I type. I can fill in, erase, or rearrange info as I go without having much reorganizing to do on the computer.
yWriter does make some of this unnecessary, as I can do almost the same thing with the computer files that I do with my cards (without the hassle of renaming and rearranging that Word requires), but I started doing this ages ago and now my brain relies on my happy little index cards like a crutch, lol. I used to do this for the really beefy research papers my loving professors assigned in college. Dork? Oh, yes.
Maybe it seems like a lot of work but that's the way my brain makes sense of ordering things. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of the outline--but this is more dynamic and user-friendly, at least to me. How do you organize your longer writing projects--or do you bother at all?