creative writing, writing

5 Reasons to Make and Use Flash Cards

Morning writers, I hope you are all well!

My blog post today focuses on what I’m calling ‘Flash Cards’ and some reasons why I think it’s beneficial to make and use them while writing a novel. As with any advice, this is one person’s opinion and may not be for you, but personally I have found flash cards immeasurably useful. I touched on these slightly in my post about beating the writer’s slump, but would like to go in more depth today.

By flash cards, I mean a lot of cards (I used revision cards, you can buy them in most stationary stores, or make your own) each with a scene from your novel written on it. It only needs to be brief. Mine included a basic ‘what happens in this scene?” sentence, for example “police investigate murder scene.” I also included the location of the scene, the date it happens and who’s POV it’s told from. (This is because I use multiple perspectives, so may not apply to you.) You may wish to include other aspects, like which characters are in the scene, what the weather’s like etc….

novel writing flash cards

Anyway, here’s 5 reasons why I truly believe you should use and make flash cards.

1. Flash Cards Can Help you Outline your Novel
Whether you write out your scenes before you begin writing, part way through or when you’ve finished the first draft, flash cards are a really clear way to layout your novel. I wrote mine out part way through, when I realised that I was stuck about going forward. It allowed me to see where jumps were in the story, and create scenes to fill the gaps. Doing this allows you a birds eye view of your outline.

2. Flash Cards Help with your Timeline
Including the days and dates of events in your novel on the flash cards allows you to check that your timeline makes sense. You can see if things are moving on too quickly or too slowly and set a pace that’s right for your story.

3. You’ll see How Far You’ve Come and How Far is Left to Go
Seeing how much you’ve written can be a real confidence boost, and you should definitely allow yourself to feel proud at your achievements so far. It will also give you a clear idea of how many scenes you have left to write, which can help you to set a realistic, achievable goal or deadline.

4. Flash Cards put your Perspectives in Order
If you are writing a story that includes more than one POV character, then flash cards are a really great way of seeing who tells which parts of the story, so that you avoid the same scene being told time and time again from a different person’s view point. It also means you can see any patterns, for example are the chapters told by Character One then Character Two then back to One and to Two, one chapter at a time? Or do they tell three chapters each before switching etc….

5. Flash Cards are Great when Editing
When it comes to re-writes and edits the flash cards still prove helpful. You can rearrange your scenes visually by laying them all out, remove scenes or add scenes as needed. I think this can really help the structure of your novel during the editing process.

novel writing

So, what do you think? Have you used flash cards before? Or are they something you may consider now?

I’d love to know your thoughts, so please comment below.

Until then,
Keep writing,

20 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Make and Use Flash Cards”

  1. that’s interesting. the first novel i wrote – no outline or plans – was a complete disaster. i was horrified when i read it – how could i tell my family that i, a grown up, wrote this? the next one had an outline, and it was actually pretty organized – the steps, i mean. now this card thing sounds interesting as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One of my biggest OCD symptoms is writing lists, which in some ways help me in life, and someways hurt me, but I think this can only be a great help. I already use cards, but never thought to use them this way.
    Great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve actually been considering using flash cards to help me with my nanowrimo project, to sort of help me keep track of whats going on, and after this post, I think I will! Thank you for helping me decide! πŸ’– ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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