Sunday, 2 July 2006

The Three by Five Card Index System

Here's another approach to writing your screenplay. The screenwriter's friend. Introducing the infamous Three by Five Card Index System.

Wow! How can I get one?

In my case - I made it. What it amounts to is this: Three 90cm x 40cm sheets of chipboard hinged together so that the whole thing stands like a concertina on a table or floor.

Every 5cm or so down, I have drawing-pinned small cardboard hinges (triangles if you will) made from old file dividers. These become placeholders for your cards.

A couple of bunches of 3 inch by 5 inch index cards (available in packs of 100 at any newsagency) and there you have it. A sure fire way to make your screenplay bubble to the top of the pile . . . Not. But it's a tool and writers need their tools.

Cool. How does it work?

As you can see - each act has three mini-acts in it (fitting in with Australian script theorist Linda Heys' Second Act Story). Or rather - going one step further and suggesting that all three acts have a beginning, middle and end. You can see from our picture, that we have yet to rewrite our 3rd act. The 3 x 5 card system will only work if you already have a screenplay - even a rough one. Each card represents a scene. We write the scene heading with any rewrite notes underneath. If we feel that there's too much of one character or we want to move to another location (often a hunch thing) we leave a space in the cards so we can go back and fill it in - or at least identify and fix the problem.

Tomorrow we approach our screenplay with trepidation because the third act is a doozy.

Our synopsis is in and we meet with the Film Finance Corporation late July. Nobody will even read our new screenplay for a few months yet. The FFC just want to talk about marketing, casting, ideas - that sort of thing.

I write 2 days per week with Phil. We've given up on the idea of three because life is just too - well - busy. So I just bought a laptop and today I pick up Viki King's 21 Days to Write a Screenplay. I'm, hopefully, about to start a speed draft of a genre screenplay Phil and I have mapped out.

Once the rough draft is done, the three by five card system will come out again and Phil will rip into my draft as I stand there pumping iron and shifting cards around on the board. Feeling irritable because - even though we've worked together for years - when anyone criticises my work, it always feels like someone is tugging an unborn child from my writer's womb.

Am I helping, kids?

1 comment:

Unknown Screenwriter said...

Wow! Love your index card board! I use my own 4 Act Structure so I would need a 4 Act board but I love this thing...

Got any detailed pictures of it so we can see how you did it?

You should sell these things... LOL.