I wanted to give everyone an update on my Write by Midnight experience since I was head down writing like a fiend at the end of February.
This year’s challenge was great for me! I met my goals. I wrote every day, honed my routine and came up with a way of using note cards to spot scenes that didn’t move the story forward—especially after plot tweaks. I wanted to share this plotting/revising technique with you as our first post-WBM pep talk of the year.
Before WBM, my plot cards looked like this—
But during Write by Midnight, I came up with a three-line formula for my cards (not counting the scene title) that I call The Because Method.
Let’s use the story of Snow White to illustrate the technique. (For this example, I used screen shots from Scrivener’s corkboard view, but you can use real index cards.)
As you can see from the note cards, the first sentence is something that happened in a previous scene. It’s the past.
The second sentence/paragraph describes the action in the current scene, i.e. the present.
And the final sentence on the card describes what will happen in the next scene as a result. (You got it—it’s the future.)
When I came up with my new note-carding system in February, I found that I couldn’t fill out the last line for some of my story’s scenes, especially after I made some plot changes. I didn’t even think the changes were that big, but they had ripple effects. The Because Method showed me (in a brutally obvious way) that those scenes weren’t moving the plot. Each time that happened, I had a choice—either cut the scene entirely or re-structure and re-write it from scratch with an action line that did lead somewhere.
So, if you’re concerned about all of your story’s scenes pulling their weight from a plot standpoint, give The Because Method a try. It’s the best way I’ve found to spot the ones that don’t really add to the story.
I hope this works for you as well as it has for me so far!