These perfectly sized thick pieces of paper have been used by writers since they were invented. Perhaps writers just used paper before that.
Why do index cards work so well? They give just enough room for a few sentences describing a scene or character or setting, they can be organized and numbered, easily reordered, and they’re travel size, too.
Here are some ways to use index cards with your story:
1. Write a scene on each card from one chapter or your whole story, and lay out the cards on your kitchen table. It’s great for seeing your whole narrative at a glance. Then, try totally reversing everything, reordering the cards, or picking at random and see the possibilities for new characters or scenes.
2. Keep a card for each character in your story. The blank side can be for drawing/pasting a picture of your character, taken from a magazine or website just for your own reference. The lined side can be for likes, dislikes, fears, family background, etc.
3. Write out each setting your story takes place in on its own index card. If it’s a real place, put a picture on the other side of the card, or draw it as you see it in your imagination. Then, take your scene cards from #1 and see how they’d work in each different setting. Look for connections that readers could make, and if there might be a better place for a certain scene to happen than the one you’ve assigned it originally.