Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's in the cards...

I'm working on a project that involves four or five different story lines woven into 55-60 pages of script. But how to keep track of all those plots?

Color index cards, baby!

My main storyline, or my A-story, appears on pink cards. My secondary story, or B-story, is on blue. My C-story on green, D-story on yellow, and E-story is on orange.

How did I assign each story a color? Well, that part's mostly random, though the E-story was relegated to my least favorite color in the pack, since the E-story will have the fewest cards.

Utilizing the color-coded cards makes each step of the outlining process easier. First, I can brainstorm in any order I choose, writing one scene per card.

Second, as I organize the 28-32 cards in five acts, including a teaser and an epilogue, laying them out on the sofa in my office, I can easily see where I may have bunched up too much A-story without a break, or forgotten to include a bit of the C-story in the second act. A quick shuffle of the cards, and my one-hour story is beginning to take on a nice look and feel.

Once I'm happy with the card arrangement, I number them in order, and sit down to write. I can quickly type up a beat-outline from the cards, especially if I need to share it with my creative partner. Or I can simply begin writing the script, using the cards to guide me.

Next time you're faced with the blank sheet of a new project, give the cards a try. Even if your story merely consists of one major story, with perhaps an ancillary tale or two tossed in, the cards will help you brainstorm your way to a well-rounded narrative...and make order out of the chaos once you've exhausted your ideas.

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