On Saturday, my New Hampshire chapter of RWA was given a treat: our chapter President, Christyne Butler, gave us a masterclass on storyboarding. What is storyboarding? I am so happy you asked.
Typically used in visual media, a storyboard is defined as such: a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production. This helps the film people plot the story, frame by frame, sequence by sequence.
But writers use storyboarding as well.
Most books are comprised of chapters, scenes within chapters, and actions within scenes. Instead of framing the novel action by scene by chapter, writers approach the storyboard a different way. Christyne showed us her way, which is how her characters are plotted out. She boards each individual character and things that might pertain to him/her when she starts to write. She has a complete visual reference for the entire book at her fingertips when she begins to write her story. She must be doing something right because she is a multi-published, very popular author!
Now, when I plot a new story it looks something like this:
I write everything out longhand once I find pictures of my characters. I fill entire composition books with pictures, descriptions, motivations, and backstory. It takes a while, but so far it has worked for me. With Christyne’s method – a more visual one – it seemed like it was worth a try, so I did it. Here’s where I’m at after 2 days: ( those are my feet in the bottom of the photo – damn crop app didn’t work!
This is a three book arc. My heroines are on the left side of the board, my heroes on the right. Just from viewing this I can see I know a whole bunch more about my girls than my boys!! SO right away, this has become a valuable tool for me. Since I am character driven, I have pictures of my peeps, their bedrooms ( I always want to imagine where they sleep!), things about their careers – quotes or pictures of occupations, and the colors on their individual blocks are foils for one another. For instance, the top is black and white because those two love interests perceive everything emotionally in shades of black and white – no gray. My goal is to get them to the gray! I love assigning colors to characters because I think of them in shades of colors. It’s hard sometimes to explain how my brain works, but the black and white instance is the easiest way for me to get you to understand how I envision people/characters.
This is all after 2 days. I’m hoping ( wishing?praying?) to have it done this weekend. I’ve already written two chapters, but I feel as if now I’ll know my characters much better when I write the rest.
So, if you’re a writer, do you storyboard? Write out everything in longhand? Fly by the seat of your pants? What? let’s discuss……
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4 responses to “The art of Storyboarding…”
Great post Peggy. I use Pinterest to pick out my character inspiration, their clothes, where they live, etc. and usually just save it to a file in One Note. While writing everything out by hand, I’ll go back and look at it from time to time. I like the idea of printing it all out and having it there in front of you so you’re not having to stop the flow of words to find the image that you might need.
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Angela – that’s the way I felt when I had the class. It seemed so much easier to have the visuals right in front of you. I’m about 3/4 done, so when it;s complete, I’ll post what it looks like. And if it helps me write the books any faster – yippie!
I wish I could see the first couple pictures. I think it’s a great idea. I don’t have any space, (one corner on the back porch), but maybe I could figure something out on computer or in a notebook. This is why I wish I had an RWA chapter close to me. It’s nice to be able to exchange ideas like this.
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Sandra – I hear ya. I’ve gotten so many amazing and wonderful tips, information and insights I would never have gleaned if it hadn’t been for my local chapter and the talented writers in it. Being a member of RWAi great, but it’s at the local level that I think a writer gets the most valuable tools and education.