Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Plotcards

It's that time of year, not of foliage or way-too-soon Christmas decorations, but of words and words and words. That's right. It's NaNoWriMo time. If you're new on the block, this weird word stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

Sounds crazy, right? To quote the Cheshire Cat, "We're all mad here."

In order to successfully complete NaNoWriMo, you need an attack plan. There are many ways to achieve this, but since this is my blog real estate, I'm going to share with you what works for me.

Plotcards involve index cards and ideas for scenes. If you're a pantser, this is the closest plot method to what you're used to. I first learned about how to use them through Holly Lisle,* but have modified the process since.

Going into the plotcards, you will need to know who your characters are. They don't need to be fleshed out yet, but you should know the basics: name, sex, story role (protagonist, antagonist, billy goat, et cetera).

Take a pack of index cards and write on each one a scene you would like to write. If you're writing something with multiple points of view, you should know which character the scene is attributed to as well. The more detail you have here, the better.
Okay: A monkey jumps through the window.
Better: Sandra's pet monkey crashes through Joel's living room window in a rage.

Once you come up with about 50-60 scene ideas, it's time to examine them for duds. Discard anything that looks like a duplicate or doesn't seem like a strong scene. Then, take your remaining cards and organizing them into an order. Some of these cards will have been created in a logical order, but there will be others where you will have to find a home.

What's nice about the index cards is that you can shuffle them around anywhere and however often as you need until you have a plot to your liking. It won't be solid and there is still enough wiggle room to create enough of the story that you're not stressing out.

Have you tried this technique before? What has been your experience with it?

* Who has a wonderful, robust site on a variety of craft topics. If you haven't been to it, go there. Now.
_____________ hit of the day: Sleep of No Dreaming by Porcupine Tree