Let the Cards Fall Where they May | Blindfolded and Titties Out

A Useful Way to Organize and Disorganize your Story

This technique, an off-shoot of the William Borroughs cut-and-paste technique, has more benefits than you might realize.

Is this the way the cards will fall? A blow job rescues him from a panic attack? Jynx gets MJ and they live happily ever after? Or...?

Is this the way the cards will fall? A blow job rescues him from a panic attack? Jynx gets MJ and they live happily ever after? Or…?

When I was a young journalist in Latin America I was blessed and cursed with writing front page news for the city’s local English-language newspaper. I was blessed because it meant lots of people were reading my work. I remember seeing a pretty girl reading one of my articles while eating lime and chilis in a cafe in the local zocalo and I was thrilled but also scared. This meant I was under the microscope and I knew my organization was suspect at best and a total fucking shambles at worst. Yeah, I had the power to describe and I got the who what where when how (and sometimes why) but a little voice in the back of my head told me that there was more to be done.


The Note Card System

To better organize my thoughts I started using the note card system. I wrote the basic points of my article down, usually 20-25 points on cards. Then I carried them around with me all day. Idieally you’d like to do this before writing the article but that’s not me. I’d first write a very unedited, messy draft and then write the cards. While carrying them arround all day, I’d shuffle them and re-read them and find mini-groups and natural orders. In the beginning the cards were very malleable. They could be re-arranged, added to, subtracted from, etc. After carrying them and digesting them better, the order and groupings became firmer. There were sub-groups now that didn’t want to be broken up. Before I knew it, the natural order of the article had taken shape. All I had to do from here was make the first draft conform to the cards.

Let the chips fall where they may technique

Cards from writing the 4th episode of Chronicles of a Humiliation Backfired

When I started writing erotic fiction I used outlines. I found I went from being a wild poet to being too formulaic. The cards came back, but this time it was not to organize but to add realism and drama. Sometimes I cannot decide what a character is going to do or how s/he will respond to a certain situation. I have many possible scenarios in my head. Now I write them down and try to write diametrically opposite situations on the back. So in my love triangle with Jynx and Jenny I simply wrote “Jynx gets MJ” on one side and “Jenny gets MJ” on the other side. Then I shuffle the cards and toss them into the air to let them fall as they may. I pick them up in order and write the result in the way they’ve fallen. This leads to some unexpected results, new connections I may have never seen, and some awesome drama.

My books and characters have definitely been rewarded by this ticker tape technique. I suggest trying it if you haven’t already used it.


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