Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Storyboarding: A Useful Writing Management Tool

Story Steps 10


Suppose you decided to use my Story Steps to get started on your latest project. Let’s recap them:


  • the idea for a story 
  • a theme or message you want the reader to take away 
  • compelling characters 
  • a working title 
  • the essential story ingredients of a story–protagonist, antagonist, situation, motivation, goal, and conflict 
  • appropriate character names 
  • writing a narrative synopsis

Today, we’re going to look at storyboarding, a technique that helps with the actual writing of your book. For starters, let’s look at the definition:

Storyboarding is a sequence of pictures created to communicate a desired general visual appearance. Although storyboarding has been traditionally associated with cinema, its beginnings can be traced back to Leonardo da Vinci, who put his ideas on a wall and examined the layout prior to producing the final painting. (She Sat, He Stood: What Do Your Characters Do While They Talk?)

Popularity of Storyboarding

Storyboarding has become popular in many professions. If you’ve seen any documentaries on making a film, such as The Mandalorian docuseries, you’ve seen examples of story boards. I discovered storyboarding way back when I took a web design course. It made me realize one doesn’t have to be an artist to utilize the story board concept.

It helps to own a computer and have access to the Internet which abounds with pictures of everything you might need. Need a character? Plenty of photos of all types and ages of people are available. Need the picture of a space ship? The photo of a Bernese Mountain dog? There are millions of photos from which to chose as you visualize your story.

Writing Management Tool

Here’s a little background on my storyboarding evolution. I used the old fashioned 3” x 5” index card system for a long, long time. What is this system? You use an index card for each scene. This tool helps you see the big picture in small doses.

The size of the cards makes it easy to shift them around as you’re trying to decide the best way to tell your story. You can design them to reveal whatever information you want. And of course, the neat typed cards often end up with hand written notations all over them.

My transition to computer generated cards was gradual. At first, I wrote story information on the cards. I would cut character photos from magazines or newspapers and copy photos of period clothing from library books, journals, or my own library. All this pictorial information was kept in file folders because the index cards were too small for them.

Then, I learned how to set the page size and run off computer generated 3x5 cards. At first, I continued as before and the cards were text only. But as I became comfortable using computer graphics, I started adding small pictures pertinent to the scene: a carriage, a pretty hat for my heroine to wear, or a piece of antique furniture. Items that helped set the scene for me.

Here’s a sample index card from Scene Two of Butterfly Bride (Saderra Publishing, 2019).



As you can see, the lack of artistic talent doesn’t prevent a writer from using this technique. Storyboarding is a fun way to better visualize your story and it’s easy to tailor storyboarding to your needs. 

However you chose to use it, storyboarding is an excellent writing management tool.

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