I learn new things every day. In life, as well as in writing.

And one of the things I’ve learned in writing is that technique is always improvable.

I’ve been for most of my writing career a “pantser,” which translates to meaning “I make it up as I go.” I don’t outline,  plan or plot as I write a book, I just sort of go where the story takes me.

And while this has always worked for me in the past, I am learning I don’t always have to do it that way.

I have discovered the art of using index cards. (Which will totally increase my love of office supplies)

I write out plot points and I lay them out on a large, flat surface, (usually my bed) and I can order all the cards, slip them around, here and there, and make the plot elements pop out, right there, in person.

I’ve done this for two books now, and both times, it’s helped me immensely with getting through sticky points in my stories, helped me see where I need to put more in, take certain elements out, all those things.

Granted, I still get story ideas that come, almost fully formed in my brain, but there are more and more that come in with only a nugget, like my muses just did a drive-by. Like “Hey, here… do something with this one! Muhahahahaha!” (I know that my muses think this stuff is funny… I don’t particularly like the whole idea of the drive-by story idea, but they do it ALL THE TIME.)

I’ve also been playing around with Scrivener (You can download a free sample of the writing software, and have a 30 day trial–a REAL 30 day trial, meaning it counts days you actually use it, not for only thirty days from the download. The price is IMHO pretty reasonable, only $40. I will probably be buying it when I finish my trial.)

So far, I’m rather liking the program. I’ve set up two stories in it, one that needs some major re-arranging, and the program works really well, if you like to write each chapter in its own document. The other, I’m doing some setup and world building for a very complicated world that I’m wanting to attempt when I have time.

As a result, this old dog is learning some new tricks with how to be a better writer.

I can’t help but be excited about this. 🙂

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