Virtual Index Cards

March 7, 2009

So I’ve been very productive away from the net. I organized my writing on Super Note Cards (SNC). (google it)  It is great for a quick outline.  I chopped longer Nanowrimo work into bite size virtual index cards.  I’d read that many writers use index cards to write.  Navokov is one of them.  He wrote this way because it was easy to take on the road when he was on his butterfly expeditions.  It is a different process.  There are two variety of virtual index cards that I know of.  One is call Scrivener, made for Mac.  The other is SNC, for Mac and PC.  Since SNC fits both,  I’ll test drive it.

SNC encourages people to try writing in paragraphs on virtual index cards.  It is like the film editing process. It helps me to see large holes in my narrative. But also the story is good with large holes as that is how the mind works in the first rough draft. The editing may have diluted the first impulse during the Nanowrimo writing sessions. Not everything has to be spelled out in the first draft. It helps a great deal to fill in the gaps or take away stuff that doesn’t belong there, that is the editing process.  It is hard to write large bits on index cards because of the temptation to shuffle things around, to do quick outlines, to edit as one goes. That is why writing on a typewriter, word processor or long hand is best for the first draft. I’ve always compared the Nanowrimo session as one long take and the second draft as the work done like the film editing’s cutting room.  I found program’s speed slow at first maybe because it is a trial version or my computer. After I entered the activation code, it seems faster.  Though, I find the cards with large amount of text slower to work through then the shorter cards.  The scrolling and high lighting and the mouse cursor movements seem slower and a bit less responsive compare to my regular word processor programs.

It does have the spell check and formatting text is much faster and different.  One can change the entire document’s text base on preference.  The index card can have one font and the print out another.  It is not a normal word processor.  I could always export it into rich text format and edit it in Words or other word processors.  I downloaded the trail version without the instructions.  Go to the website for their instruction it’s very helpful and I would have thought that it would come with the trial download because it would help the potential customer to see the usefulness of it.

So far, I’ve learn on my own as well as with the help of the instructions.  I’ll tell you how I use it.  There may be other ways.  I usually look at my Nanowrimo as a daily entry and will keep track of it at the heading of each writing session.  Using SNC, I dedicated each index card to a day.  As I have a collection of thirty cards, it is daunting to sort through.  I find the category, and factors help a great deal.  Factors such as person, place, and things can be assigned to the general deck of cards.  Each Factor is then assigned a keyword.  The programs looks for keywords and compile a list.  I can choose to pin down each card with that particular search.  It’s fun to see the relationships between the cards.  Unfortunately, the factors disappears when, I copy the deck into another SNC file.  It would be nice if the assigned factors go with the cards to the new file.  It takes a bit of planning to work around this problem.

+ compatible with Mac and PC.

+ opens files as tab.  I thought this was very useful to navigate from file to file.

–  A full screen would be nice.

– Assigned Factors does not copy over into new file.


I tried this out during a weekend and I must say that I like it alot.  Couple of features that I thought was useful.   One is the Document Split.  I wish I had this on my Super Note Card.  It allows me to split longer documents into shorter sections.  With SNC, I had to copy and past which can be tedious.

The other is the Scrivender Edit which combines all of the card into a seemless document and the tinted background highlights one card from the other.

Importing text files into Scrivener was also very useful.

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2 Responses to “Virtual Index Cards”

  1. Danielle Says:

    Thank you for sharing your trial of SNC – I have been looking for an app which allowed me to use notecards similarly to scrivener and writer’s cafe without the rest of the stuff AND which is not for Mac only! yours was the only article which addressed something other than Scrivener when I googled index card software.
    So far I’m loving SNC. Thanks!

  2. ducly Says:

    Hi Danielle,
    I’m glad you found it useful. I bought the software. I use it both on Mac and PC.

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