For the past couple books, I have been writing directly from my layout of 3×5 cards. I now think this was unwise, and cost me time and effort later on in the process – fixing things that I didn’t notice were wrong at the beginning, and realizing that things I thought were cool in concept were actually unworkable messes. Thus my eureka moment – laying out the plot on cards is an essential step for me, but there should be another step before beginning to write.
When I first started writing for Black Library, they insisted I do detailed synopsises and chapter by chapter breakdowns. I thought it was an unnecessary pain then, but now I see that it helped the novels. When forced to turn the sketchy notes on my cards into a document that somebody else had to read, I would find holes and bits that didn’t work, and was able to put them right before I got too deep into the book. Now I’m writing that detailed breakdown for myself, and it’s already helping me fix the weave and smooth out the rough corners of the new novel.
Note to self – hubris and laziness are a writer’s worst enemies. Do the fucking work!