A post at Murderati discusses the in's and out's of writing a high quality first act for a novel.
With the first act defined as the first 100 pages of a novel length work, it's an important part of any novel. I've struggled to complete the first act three or four times. I get started well and the excitement builds quickly as I start the novel journey.
At about 10,000 words, the going gets a lot tougher. I haven't yet become comfortable transitioning my storyline from the "set-up" stage to the later stages that really move the action. I'm currently reading Total Control by David Baldacci, and he makes the transition out the first act look easy. I really admire his talent.
I've never been a fan of index cards for outling, but based on the suggestions posted at Murderati, I might have to rethink my preconceived ideas.