Friday, May 22, 2009

Note Cards

While doing the revisions to Black Earth, like any novel, eventually I get to the part where I have to figure out the order and pacing of the scenes in the book. When I wrote the Expired Reality books it was a little bit easier because I didn't have too many chapters or scenes spread out too bad. Once I came around to the 2nd Expired Reality novel, Lost Birth, I had almost doubled the amount of chapters that the first book had, yet the book was shorter and more fast paced, so it was a little more challenging trying to figure out the pacing and order of some of the scenes.

I'm sure the severity and challenge of this issue can also be attributed to the fact that the Expired Reality novels take place over a period of 24 hours each book, making each scene more intense and more directly connected to the ones before and after it. Black Earth: End of the Innocence takes place over a roughly 12 hour period and feels like it has more characters involved in it than the Expired Reality novels have so far, even though that may not be technically true.

I found the easiest way to deal with figuring out how to arrange scenes in my novels is to use a deck of note cards. See, I am a very visual individual, so I do much better seeing the bigger picture when trying to sort things out. So I take a note card and write down the scene it represents, doing that for every scene in the book, and then I lay them all out and rearrange them accordingly. Then I go back and rearrange the actual scenes in the novel according to the order of the note cards. If there are a set of characters that don't have any scenes for 8-10 chapters, then those scenes need to be rearranged for better balance, instead of having the novel too focuses on on set of characters for too long.

Originally, I was using colored Post-It Note's. I used the colors to represent whose scenes were being written down for easy visual reference. But this time around, for Black Earth, I am using regular note cards and I use colored ink to write the scene out depending on where the scene is taking place, this way I have at a glance how often certain scenes pop up and if the flow of the story is even. The final and most reliable way to check the flow of a story is to read through it completely in a few shots, but note cards help get things on the right track! :D

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