Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Storyboarding 101

by Melissa Kline

A few years ago at our 3rd Swagger Reunion I was having some difficulty organizing a work in progress. I had too much going on – side stories, unnecessary characters and a weak plot overall. So I decided to get creative and try storyboarding the novel with various colored paper. The process helped tremendously! After seeing what I had to work with using the storyboarding method, I had an organized story and focus on exactly where to go with it.

Since then, I’ve experimented with various ways of storyboarding and now host a workshop where I explain these different methods and how to use them. I wanted to share some of my ideas and ways of getting creative with the storyboard process.

Collage: Use poster board, magazine clippings and printouts to create visual inspiration. Try to convey the entire book and its overall storyline on one large board. Arrange images of characters, settings, situations, (don’t forget the drama!) and events. This is a very fun and creative way to better understand your book and its characters. 

Timeline: Use charts, graphs or just basic timelines (from elementary school) to organize your story’s plot, peaks and important events. This is especially useful if you have various dates, seasons or even years to keep track of.

Maps/Family Tree: If you have a novel with extraordinary settings – made up worlds, lands or complex landscapes, you may want to consider using maps as a visual reference. Many books include maps of their made up lands/clans/houses, so consider the possibility of including it in your book for your readers. The same concept applies if you have several ancestral lines, families or clans. Keep track of them with a visual family tree.

Sticky Notes/Colored Paper: Use colorful bits of paper to organize/clarify your overall storyline. Use specific colors to identify characters, settings, situations and important events. The greatest thing about this method is that you can move the paper around and play with what works. This is an oldie but goodie.

Bonus: All of these creations can be proudly displayed in your writing space to fuel inspiration. :)

Have you ever had to use the storyboarding method? What techniques do you use? I’d love to hear about it!

10 comments:

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    1. Thank you, Anna! Yes, I believe we all have the ability to inspire one another. Keep shining! :)

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  2. I've never tried storyboarding. I think if I got the cards out of order, I'd be lost forever.

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    1. Ha, ha. Yeah, I suppose you'd have to label them with numbers or something. You can do it! ;)

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  3. Great post! I'm doing something similar with my WIP, but I'm using scrivener's cork board to block out scenes and outline. This is largely because my handwriting is illegible, sometimes even to myself.

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    1. Thanks, Eric! I didn't realize Scrivener had a tool like that. Pretty neat! I will have to try it out. :)

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  4. I've never used the storyboard method- but I am intrigued by what you've written about it here. I might have to try some o f those methods out- thanks for all the tips.

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Jaybird! So glad you liked my article. :)

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  5. I've use long strips of freezer paper (2-one per character); large poster boards for each character's genealogy; and large paper to map out an outline. Haven't tried the colored paper yet--but should. thanks for the idea!

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    1. Hi Carol! Sounds like you are an expert story boarder. ;) Thanks for sharing.

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