Susan Grossey

Virtual cork-boards and Post-Its

As I mentioned on the very first day of this year, I have a naturally rather chaotic writing style.  I don’t write my books chronologically, but rather I do a rough outline of the main plot turns and then write whatever scene or chapter grabs my interest when I sit down at the keyboard.  This means that I can write all procedural stuff if I’m feeling detailed, or some dramatic stuff if I need livening up, but eventually the piper has to be paid and I need to start pinning it all together into a coherent whole.  And I am rather scared to report that, for “Plank 3”, that day has come.

I sat down to write something on Sunday morning, and realised that I had reached the point where I couldn’t remember what I had already written.  How did Conant’s daughter Lily meet that man, I wondered?  I remembered writing about it, but not what I had actually written.  So I had to bite the bullet.  The way I tackled the problem was to re-read each chapter that I have written, and summarise it into three or four bullet points, which I then typed onto (virtual) Post-Its for pinning on the (virtual) cork-board that is part of the excellent writing program that I use (Scrivener).  So each chapter now has its own Post-It, and I can move them around on the cork-board until they’re in an order that I like.  “Plank 3”, like “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, has several plot strands, and I like to interleave them, so that you hear a bit about one then a bit about another.  I figure that it’s more interesting (and testing!) that way, and indeed more indicative of the real way that police work is conducted – several investigations on the go at once.

So now I feel I have a much better grip on what still needs to be written for “Plank 3”.  And thank goodness I did re-read it all; somehow I had managed to betroth the afore-mentioned Lily to two different men, and her magistrate father would have had plenty to say about that.


  1. Roy McCarthy Avatar
    Roy McCarthy

    I have Scrivener but have never looked at the corkboard thingy. Must try it.

  2. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

    Yes: click on your Manuscript in the left-hand column, then on the Corkboard logo in the menu area. Each chapter will appear as a Post-It – well, an index card, I suppose. And then you can type on the index card, which is where I have put my chapter bullet points. To move the index cards around, just drag and drop. I’m finding it very handy.
    Best wishes from Susan

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