Scene Cards in Trello

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I use Trello for a few things (productivity, book mapping -plotting device, outlining, and revising). Recently on Instagram I shared how I'm using scene cards in Trello. Many of you loved the idea and wanted to know more, so I'm sharing my process with you here.

If you’re new to Trello, definitely check out Author Brittany Wang’s videos on some ways you can use it. Then come on back here and see how I use scene cards in Trello.

What's a Scene Card? 

So what is a scene card? I won't go into depth about them here since the point of this guide is to show you how to use them in Trello, but here's a quick explanation. The purpose of a scene card is to help you make a blueprint of your story and make sure each scene matters. Each scene should trigger the next one, and help move the plot forward. Plus, each scene should show your character's external and internal struggles and reactions to what happens in the scene. For more exact details on scene cards, check out the writing craft book Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

As you can see below, a scene card contains several things about the scene. If you're not familiar with the scene card template below from Story Genius please note, it covers the external (top section of the card) and internal (bottom section of the card) issues. One drawback to doing scene cards in Trello is you don't have the exact grid like in the template below, but I found a way to separate the sections. Further down when we discuss making the scene cards in Trello you'll see what I mean by this. To see a helpful example of how to fill out a scene card, check out a video by Abbie Emmons called the Ultimate Scene Card where she fills out a scene card (pictured below). The book Abbie uses in her example is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Keep in mind, we all have different writing processes so if the scene card template doesn't work for you or seems like too much, it's okay. You can still do scene cards just put the chapter #, scene #, and a brief description of what happens in the scene and why it’s important. This way you can still make a blueprint of your book.

Why I use scene cards 

I'm using scene cards as part of my plotting process for the story I'm working on right now. 

 

1. Brainstorm the idea.

2. Develop the characters.

3. Write the synopsis.

4. Work on the outline.

5. Use the outline to work on scene cards.

Using scene cards helps me work out kinks and to get to know my main character a bit more. And by using them in Trello, I can see the timeline easier. 

 

As I draft the story, I track what scene I'm working on each day by using the label feature in Trello. For example, if I need to write a scene I'll label that scene card green and if I've written the scene, I label it orange. Once I'm done drafting, I'll go back and use the labels to help me when I revise the story.  

(Scroll down to see the label feature below.)

Creating Scene Cards in Trello

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s make your scene cards in Trello!

First, make a board in Trello, then follow these steps.

  1. Create lists for Act 1, Act 2A, Act 2B, Act 3. If you only want to do the three-act structure feel free to just put Act 2 as one list. Or you can make lists for each story beat from Save the Cat Writes a Novel and put scenes into the lists according to which story beat they happen in. 

Color-Coded Banners

If you want to color-code the lists as I have done you can make a banner image on Canva.com. I use the SoundCloud template on Canva. Then I make that image the cover of a card in the list. Tada! You have a color-coded banner for each list. I always make the top card only the banner and don't use it as a scene card. If you don't want color-coded lists but like the banner, you can always use the same color for each banner. The color-coded banners are especially helpful if you use them when book mapping or for a digital KANBAN board. If you want to know more about book mapping, you can find it in my Writers' Resources on the Members' Page. For more on using Trello as a digital KANBAN board, check out Brittany Wang's video Here.

2. Make a template scene card.

For the title of the card I put Chapter # Scene #. You can also add a few words to help you remember what happens in the scene. Doing so will help you during revisions. I then click on the card and type the parts of the scene card into the description box. You can even add story beats to your scene cards if you use a method like Save the Cat Writes a Novel. That way you know what beat the scene takes place in. Also, if you have more than one subplot, you can add however many subplot points you need. Now you can see by the picture below I couldn't quite make the exact grids like the scene card template from Story Genus, but I did separate them. I made lines with the hyphen/underscore (Shift + - = ___ ). On this example scene card, I put External and Internal in the sections to help you out. Just remember the What Happens & Consequences are the external issues and the Why it Matters & Realization are the internal issues.

Act #    Scene #

Alpha Point:

Sub Point:

External

 

What Happens (Cause):

The Consequence (Effect):

 

 

 

Internal

 

Why it matters (Cause):

The Realization (Effect):

 

And so? (Effect):

3. Scroll down and click on the Template button. This card is now a template that you can use repeatedly.

4. From now on, all you need to do is click on your template card then...

  • Click Create Card from Template

  • Type in the exact Chapter # & Scene # you need for this card.

  • Select the List you want it in (Act 1, Act 2, Act 3) 

  • Click on Create Card.

Now you have a new scene card in that list and you can fill out the information that matters to the scene.

Woohoo!

Now you can see you have a new card in the list you chose. In the card's title you can put the Scene #, Chapter #, Story Beat, or few words that describe the scene. Doing this will help you when you’re revising or if you find that you need to rearrange the scenes. It’ll make it easier for you to know what happens in it just from the title.

Bonus Tips

 

Trello is like using index cards, but it’s digital and you can color-code them the way you want according to what you’re doing by using the label feature. You can use the labels to show which scenes you need to write, to revise, what characters are in which scenes, etc. As you can see on the final example board below, the cards with green on them are ones I labeled.

You can also use checklists in the cards if you’re editing/revising to make lists of what you need to do in each scene. Then check them off when you’re done with each item. 

I hope you found this helpful. If you did, please tag me in a Tweet or Instagram post/story to show me your scene cards in Trello! 

Happy Writing! 

J.J.

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