Skip to main content

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?

Comments

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.

Seriously!

Unk

Popular posts from this blog

The Drug That Killed River Phoenix

This article was going to be about a new drug I'm on called Duomine, but as I knew very little about River Phoenix (aka the vegan Jimmy Dean) I thought I'd swat up on what's really going on behind that brain-worm ditty. I'll talk about Duomine another time.The song line I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix is from Aussie alternative band TISM's tasteless 1995 single (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River - and it's a bit cheap, frankly. The single's cover shows a mock-up of River's tombstone and was released shortly after his death. TISM were well-known for criticisin Imperial Hollywood and US pop culture, but they were masters when it came to borrowed interest marketing. More about these guys later.River Bottom's Awkward LifeIn 1944, River's mother Arlyn was born to a Jewish family living in the Bronx. When she finished school, she married a computer programmer but quickly grew bored of her secretarial life. In 1968, at 24, Arlyn dr…

Script development on a budget

Most people abhor criticism and nobody likes to open their wallet. If you are either, don’t - whatever you do - write a feature film screenplay. I almost guarantee that nobody will read it without being paid.

More importantly never go into production on a script that hasn’t been very heavily criticised, rewritten, analysed, rewritten gain, ripped apart, gutted and finally ... rewritten. I'm sure you can name a thousand movies with huge plot holes or character problems. Problems which could have easily been patched up with just a few bucks investment. Criticism is not the same as rejection.
While Mum will happily read your screenplay, getting constructive feedback from industry professionals costs money. Constructive criticism is the key to morphing an ailing screenplay into a great feature film. Nothing else will do this. Unfortunately, getting anyone who’s not your mother to read your screenplay (or read beyond your synopsis and director's notes) costs money. Even if you don&#…