Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Use 3x5 Cards to Rearrange the Sequence of Scenes in Your Writing

One good thing about using a computer when you are writing is in knowing that you can cut and paste scenes to move them to different locations in your manuscript. Even though you may have outlined the plot of your story or the nonfiction piece you are writing, the sequence of events can rearrange themselves when you least expect it. That usually happens to me when one of my characters takes over the novel and leads me down a path I did not expect to follow.

I have found that a stack of 3x5 cards comes in handy when I am writing fiction. I name the time that the action occurs at the top of the card and write a sentence describing the key action that occurs in each scene. Later, after I am well into the novel, if I need to rearrange the sequence of events, I can do so by shuffling the cards into the proper order. When I am sure that I have the sequence exactly as I want it to be,  I can begin to cut and paste on the computer and move chapters or scenes around without the risk of becoming confused.

If your students need help with sequencing when they read or write, have them use 3x5 cards as an easy way to arrange the order of events. I found this method especially helpful while students were reading difficult material. If they wrote the plot points on cards, they could arrange them and see the rising action and more easily determine the climax, the falling action, and the denouement.

Click here for a free exercise to practice using 3X5 cards to rearrange the sequence of scenes in a familiar story.
Using 3X5 Cards to Arrange Scenes photos
 Simple Steps to Sentence Sense by Charlene Tess photo

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