The trouble with this advice: While plot might be the enemy, we still long for something interesting to happen in a story. Yes, you can find novels, some a bit successful, where not much happens throughout 300 or more pages. But the best tales give your well-crafted characters something notable to do, experience or endure. It might be as simple as losing a dog. It might be as epic as discovering a secret government plot to experiment on virus victims.

You are at the right moment to craft such plot points, once you know your characters well. But after you know your people, shuffling their story around can take place on index cards. These are still tools that the pros use, in some form or another.

Above you see my plot cards for Viral Times, my novel about a government plot during a pandemic. They are the second generation of the plot, standing on the shoulders of a simple Word file written in outline mode. Each color represents a Point of View, a chapter, or simply a scene. After I write the action, I note a goal for the scene or chapter. They have changed in order, expanded. Some have even been scrapped.

There are good tools out there for plotting with the index card. Blake Synder’s Save the Cat is a popular screenwriting book that loves index cards as a plot tool. Go ahead, visit Office Depot and make your writing more clear. Use Post-Its in colors, instead of cards, if you like, but go old-school to make the plot.