BDN Archive – How I Use Index Cards to Outline, Pt 1

This was originally posted by me at (no longer available) on October 14, 2011. 

I meant to get this post up yesterday, but life got in the way!  So, here it is now!

Jen from A Single Bell asked on my last post about how I outline with index cards.  So, I’ll go into a little bit more detail with this post.  This is totally adaptable, I outline differently for every story, because every story is unique.

I made a ‘master card’ that is basically my legend, so that I’m consistent through-out the outlining process.  This is my ‘master card’, please click on it for a bigger picture:

Index Card Outline Master Card for Gyti

Across the top:
Year the event takes place
Permanent Order (where it will be placed in the final outline)
Character (pink is Dina, blue is Coxilxi, green is Ehi, yellow is Erlkys)

Main body:
Character specific plot points
Simultaneous major plot points that may be going on at the same time
(I did end up with a couple of cards that had just major plot points on them without character specific ones, because they didn’t happen at the same time as anything else).

Lower right hand corner:
Chronological order of plot points for each character.

Are you still with me? I know it’s a lot of information to follow!

Here is one of my actual plot points:

Plot Point 4 for Gyti

Hopefully that will give you some idea of how I execute this massive endeavor . . . let me know if you have questions!

I’ll post more tomorrow . . . as well as a picture of my massive outline laid out on the floor 😀

Continue to How I Use Index Cards to Outline, Pt 2

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.