My first book was written almost completely on 3×5 cards that I stored in my cargo pockets while serving in the Army. I kept them in a Ziploc bag since … you know … Army stuff. Field exercises in Hawaii were murder on paper. If you’ve never been to Hawaii then let me tell you, they have this red dirt that can stain anything.
I mean it.
I took the advice of a more experienced soldier and purchased an extra uniform for the sole purpose of rolling around in reddish mud.
Now then … I don’t recommend using 3×5 cards to write your whole novel on for several reasons.
#1) Unless you’re in a situation where you absolutely must store your work in your cargo pocket, why would you want to?
#2) 3×5 cards with numbers on them are still a pain in the batoosh to keep in order. Should you be crazy enough to do this, find an organization style very, very quickly.
#3) 3×5 cards are easier to lose than full pages of paper. Again … some sort of filing system is absolutely necessary here.
All that said, I do still use 3×5 cards. I just don’t write the whole stinking novel on them. I write blips, lines, descriptions, plot points, or anything that catches my attention that I think could be useful. The actual writing of the novel normally takes place in a notebook.
I love the feel of pen on paper. Something about it just calls to me, sets my creative mind to wandering, and helps me focus on the novel at hand. And this was all well and good for my first several novels.
However … looking at a series like Tapped, which at this juncture is approximately 7 books long with offshoots for novellas and short stories, it has become increasingly apparent that I need to adapt my writing techniques. The problem isn’t so much writing on the notebooks, but the editing process that comes after.
You see, after I’ve transferred everything onto the computer and done at least 3 passes at the novel, I inevitably print the whole thing out and find myself handwriting EVERYWHERE.
No, really. Everywhere. Margins, napkins, between lines, no place is safe.
So in essence I’m handwriting the novel twice.
This takes time.
Trenna fans will agree with me here in saying it takes too much time. (I’m so very sorry. But I do promise Usurper will be out next year.)
This is what inspired the Residual Haunting challenge. For those of you just joining us, Residual Haunting is the serialized novel I have been posting up on Wattpad and its own story blog. It has been written completely on the computer, which accounts for a slight lack of description but a very stylized flow to the narrative.
Since I am over midway through the book now I figured I would do a bit of a Pro vs. Con update on this experiment.
Pro — Character voices flow better.
Con — I had to go back in and write descriptions of the characters.
Pro — Timing for writing the rough draft has been cut in half.
Con — Character depth is missing. Who are these people and what do they want? (Aside from not being eaten by the monster roaming the museum.)
Conclusion — The rough draft will be rougher than normal when this is done. I will have to go in and add graphic detail to make the setting come alive. I will have to slow down and use the 1″ picture frame (thank you, Ann Lamont) on each of the characters. We will have to see at the end of the editing process if this actually saves time in the long run.
Now, these are my experiences. Someone else will likely have different results. But as writers it is our duty to experiment and learn different ways to approach the craft. It’s the only way we’ll grow.