Using Scene Cards to Eliminate Struggling with a Blank Page

One of the worst feelings for any writer is staring at a blank page, yet it’s a task I found myself doing more often than I would have liked, especially the first page of every new chapter. My problem wasn’t lack of ideas, or motivation. My problem was I didn’t use a detailed outline. I did have an outline. Sort of. Somewhere, lost in a pile of notes you’ll find a loose sheet of paper with one or two words for each chapter (well . . . at least ten chapters) and a story are sketched out on the other side of the paper, usually accompanied by coffee stains. Because that works for me. All writers fall into two categories, either you’re an outline writer or an organic writer. I’ve also seen them called plotters and pants writers, and George R.R. Martin refers to them as architects and gardeners. Discussing the pros and cons of both might take all day, but in short, an outline writer plans their stories, with meticulous detail, while an organic writer plops their characters on a blank page and allows the story to develop freely. An outline writer rarely keeps the page of any chapter or scene empty for long. I’m an organic writer though, which means I end up staring at a lot of blank pages. I might know what big event needs to happen in the scene, but the details are floating around in the air waiting for me to pull them out. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My characters love the potential in that emptiness. Sometimes they love it so much, they have a hard time moving. I’ve spent many mornings writing the first couple paragraphs of a scene, only to delete them and start all over again. Twenty times… read more →