Super Cards

Downloading trial versions of programs and playing with them is a little hobby of mine. Every time I hear about a new one, I have to check it out. In this way I’ve found many useful writing programs: Scrivener, VoodooPad, Macjournal. I’ve also wasted a lot of time when I could have been writing.

I need a program that will taunt me into writing. It would look like the Paperclip Guy in Microsoft Word 97. When I pull out Chapter 1 for the eleventh time, the Paperclip Guy would say, “It looks like you’re trying to revise this again. Would you like me to kick your ass into Chapter 2?” When my characters decide to go on a quest to find the magic-thingy so they can stop the evil wizard from destroying the world, it would say, “It looks like you’ve run out of original ideas. Would you like some advice? a) Give up writing; b) you’re a loser.”

A while ago I wrote about Scrivener, one of the very best writing programs out there. Unfortunately non-mac users can’t take advantage of it. A good enough reason to convert to mac, as I see it, but I will keep my religious views to myself.

Recently I found another program, less well-known than Scrivener, but doing many of the same things — and it has a Windows version. It’s called SuperNotecards, by Mindola (www.mindola.com). At $29 it’s a bit cheaper than Scrivener, and provides some different tools.

If you were to ask Dax, “Do you have any index cards?” the reply would never be, “Maybe. I’ll look in my desk.” Dax would say, “What size? What color? Neon or regular? Lines or no lines? Do you want them in a pad or loose? How many packs do you need?”

I am embarrassed to admit how many index cards I have in my desk, in my drawer, in my closet, in my briefcase, in my glovebox… I love index cards. I use them for everything — quotations and questions, poems and notes.

When I was in seventh grade, we learned how to write a term paper using 3×5 index cards – one card for each fact and reference. Our teacher had already forced us to write a hierarchical outline with Roman and Arabic numerals, capital and small letters. But cards were much easier; information could be shuffled around more easily. To please her, I re-wrote my outline several times, and still only got a C. I decided that hierarchical outlines were a way for teachers to weed out those who were not really serious about term papers. No outline, you get a D. My outline was only just ‘adequate,’ not ‘complete and detailed.’ Notecards were the way to go, I decided.

I have found several notecard programs for computer and for phone, but most are for making flashcards, not so useful for writing. SuperNotecards is made for writing. Scrivener uses cards, too, but SNC allows you to categorize and link them in many more ways. There are so many things to think about while writing a novel – continuity of characters and plot, the introduction of backstory and foreshadowing. SNC excels at this kind of planning. It’s made to organize and link pieces of information in various ways, useful for both fiction and non-fiction.

You could write your entire novel on cards, but that’s not really what it’s designed for. I switch over to Scrivener when I’m ready to write. I may not use SNC for every project, but when the amount of information I’m dealing with becomes overwhelming, this program perfect. Its flexibility allows me to use it in different ways — to create a broad outline of my story or to detail every aspect of every scene.

If you are more a seat-of-the-pants writer, not an outliner or organizer, SuperNotecards may not appeal to you. But if you’re struggling to get your story together, or find yourself re-reading pages of revision notes, this program may surprise you.

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