Monday, February 18, 2013


What was my writing life like before recipe cards?


I had notes everywhere - on scraps of paper, in notebooks, on serviettes, on the backs of cheques . . .

Then I bought my first pack of recipe cards  and I never looked back!

I use the small size, blank or lined. Sometimes I treat myself to different colours. When I'm planning a book or I'm in the middle of a draft, every time I get an idea for a scene (or part of a scene), I write it on a recipe card.

The rule is: only one scene or event per card. The stack builds up which is very satisfying. And there are so many ways you can use them.

- Spread out all your cards on the floor and have fun rearranging them in different orders - play with the sequence of events in your novel.

- Arrange your cards on a bulletin board (Tip: I use a large piece of styrofoam - one meter by one meter - that is light and portable. I can carry it around the house!)

- Sort the cards into beginning, middle and ending - very helpful especially with a long novel.

- Colour code the cards to show whether the scene is backstory, flashback or present action. That way you'll spot right away when you have too much backstory at the beginning of your novel or concentrated in one place.

 -Colour code to show which character's point of view the scene is in.

- Write on each card the purpose of the scene: move the plot forward, develop character, develop theme

- Write snippets of great dialogue

For the environmentally conscious - write on the fronts of the cards for one book, on the backs for your next book and recycle used cards! 

 Some advice from Elizabeth George in Write Away . . .

Every writer has to develop her own process: what works for her time and time again. Having no process is like having no craft. It leaves you dangling out there over the obyss, a potential victim of writer's block. Having no process puts you at enormous risk because writing becomes a threat instead of a joy.


Holes by Louis Sacher

Stanley is sentenced to the bizarre Camp Green Lake where the boys are digging holes because an evil warden is hunting for something. This book was an absolute favourite when I read aloud to my intermediate classes at school. They always begged for another chapter.


What if . . . you could be a magician for one day? What crazy stunts would you pull?

Next week: One Surprising Thing


  1. hi im manjot and i really enjoyed reading the book MISSING it was gerat i love it when thea found livia when the police coldnt fing her in 60 years and my favourite person in the book was may. i wanted to alway ask you that how manny horses do you have and when did you start reading! im a fan! REAPLY.