Index Cards And Novel Editing - Rewrite Chronicles II


I actually managed to get a first (extremely rough) draft of the rewritten Ghost!Story done on New Year's Eve. I then went and spent the rest of the evening and the first day of 2017 in the company of dear friends, before throwing myself into FULL INDEX CARD EDITING MODE on January 2nd.

By January 3rd, I had reread the book. I summarised each chapter, and made notes on what needed tweaking. I also used white index cards to show where I needed to add in extra chapters.

Once I'd summarised every chapter and noted down what needed adding or changing, I added tabs to the chapters so I could get a view of the story's overall structure.


This gives me an overview of the story's flow. It's all big picture stuff - I can see what happens when, where the major developments happen (I've referred to them as 'acts' in my notebook), the key moments in various chapters, and how the subplots carry through. I've also marked chapters with things that need switching around, and tracked what happens on what day so I have a rough timeline.

Unfortunately, I don't really have anywhere I can leave the cards splayed out at all times. I specifically wanted to do a card per chapter so I could get a good idea of the entire book. Based on the research I did on using index cards to check a novel's structure, other writers seem to use a lot less... Ah well, this is my way, and so far, it's proven very useful. I have a much better grip on my plot, its highs and lows, where the subplots come in, what needs development and where backstory needs to be moved to.

Why did I choose to go for index cards this time? Because I've never carried out a massive structural and plot rewrite before. I've removed several chapters, separated chapters into shorter ones, and found a few places where chapters need to be added. I wouldn't have been able to see this so clearly if I hadn't used these index cards. Having the story splayed out this way gave me the aerial view of the plot I so desperately needed.

Now, this is a method of using index cards specifically for editing. It probably could work for plotting a novel from the outset, but this is geared more towards editing. Especially those of us who've:

1) pantsed a first draft and you need to clear up your structure.
2) rewritten an existing novel and need to get a clear overview to see what changes you've made and where further changes are required.
3) JUST REALLY LOVE STATIONERY YOU GUYS!

I still have a lot of work to do on this book. I just wanted to get a rough draft to see if the change to the plot would work. The good thing is it definitely does. I'm going to have a much stronger book for it. All I have to do now is write all of the new material and dive into the line edits...

Buuuuuuuut maybe after a bit more Rise of the Tomb Raider...

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