Index Cards and more
Ideas become colors, become narrative paragraphs and maybe, eventually become a story...

How to use tags to structure a screenplay

First, what are index cards? Well, at the beginning of your creative process and actually very much through all of it, you will find yourself writing down ideas, concept, attributes to characters, and much more. In the early days of screenwriting and in fact, very much now, those ideas were written down on colored stickers or labels and attached to a wall or on put a table-top to help the writer “manipulate” the story, to brainstorm on the connections. Obviously, with the story becoming more and more complex, the number of paper increases, and it might become difficult to keep track of all the relationships between the items.
Is it useful?
Absolutely! Every script raises from pieces of little concepts stack together in a harmonious way. This is the reason today, many software applications tried to integrate the concept of index cards into the editor, to provide, in a way and organized format for disorganized idea... 🙂

In few words

The bullet points summarize pretty much what index cards stand for in a screenplay:

  • Relationships: how storylines intersect, how characters react to certain events. What is connected to what.
  • Brainstorming: outlining is for many writers the way to start a script. Swapping scenes order, adding tags, notes, feedbacks.
  • Chain of events: at a certain point in your creative process, you will need to take a step back to a higher level view of your story. What goes in Act #1? Does the series of events make sense? Here is where probably Index Cards are really useful.
  • You can touch your story: without getting too sentimental here, having the power of reshuffling your story with your hand gives a good feeling and most important it makes it real.

Going the extra mile...

Writing on paper, it certainly gives the feeling of creating something. Being able to adjust you story, manipulate it, it is where every writer started, and it does not have to disappear. But we live in an era in which tactile is not anymore an exclusive of pen & paper. We have phones with touch screens, tablets and computers are much more gesture oriented and is changing every year (if not every six months).

So we decided to make the most of our today’s technology implementing Index Cards in TwelvePoint in a new fashion, and we called it: “Relationships”.

A Relationship in TwelvePoint is group of tags that you can attach to: Acts, Scenes, Characters, Locations & timelines. A tag can be a character’s feature such as : “is Always happy” or can assign a cost for a location or a prop, e.g., the rent for this location is $100/a day. All the connections you create, are available in all the panels, and you can recall them at any moment. So if you are there, screening your outline, you will notice that also the relationships' information are available to you. When you write a character dialogue, you see there is a relationship telling you that a certain point in time you decided that this character “is always happy”, so you will write the paragraph accordingly.

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