There are different ways for people to plan out a novel. Some people write an outline. While others play it by ear. Some authors can write their characters so well that they let the story drive them.
With these methods, questions come up like: What’s this minor character’s last name again? Where did the backstory say this character was travelling to? How is this character know this character? Or wasn’t there a new person who introduces my main character to the act of doing something? Who was that? What happened in Act 1 to lead to this event in Act 2?
Structural plot and background questions arrive even in the simplest of plots. Added to that, think if you had a story with multiple storylines and characters. It can make the writing process confusing and difficult.
I’ve tried many approaches which have made me come face to face with these writing obstacles. And in my search for finding the most efficient way to write a novel, this month I decided to test out a new one: The Storyboard.
What is a storyboard?
A storyboard is a physical structure that displays the scenes of your novel. It can be as detailed or as vague as you wanted it to be. For example, if you can’t work out a scene but you know a certain feeling or activity should be in this specific spot, you can write a word there as a reminder. Like, fight or uncover secret. Who your character is fighting or what is the secret can come later. Just have a card that marks the event /scene is needed.
Storyboards also are to be hung on a wall in your work area. It’s a constant reminder that a story is here to be written in a very organized way.
How to get started?
I tried to do my own personal research on how to make a storyboard. All the vlogs and articles I had come across were very vague and I felt like I had to discover how to set up this board on my own.
This was a big task because I had multiple storylines happening, many of which crossed over to connect or involve multiple characters. I wasn’t doing anything as epic as the GOT or LOTR novels. But as a new writer I was overcoming a new challenge and as a visual learner having outline my new novel into a storyboard seemed like a smart thing to do.
As I said I had a lot of working parts in my new novel that had crossovers of characters and stories. First, I started with logging the major events that were going to happen in each side story. Essentially, I had three sides stories that help move the main plot along.
After I mark the main events, I plotted the big romance issues. The events that keep the hero and heroine from getting together. Basically, the interior tension in the love story. From previous baggage to other lovers, the obstacles of being in/finding love have to be there before the novel’s HEA.
The last thing I plotted was the romance points. Those moments are where the hero and heroine connect, either emotionally and/or physically. Events that have them together. And again, some of the main points with the big romance issues crossed into the romance points.
I needed the storyboard to see how it all came together.
***Side note about me: I am a color coding, organizing queen. Next to post its, multicolored index cards are my “go to” buddy.
Therefore, it made sense for me to print the main points of my three different stories on their own designated color. Storyline one was green. Storyline two was orange and the other was blue.
Oh, but my madness didn’t stop there. I had different colors to designate the big romantic issues (red!) and the romance points (pink!).
Then I got to work. I spread out my events. Like playing cards in solitary, I moved them around in an order that soon made sense in my head. Any events that crossed over were stacked close together on top of each other like a procession of Kings to number cards.
At moments when I felt stuck, I’d shuffle my event cards and had fate decide on the flip of the top card. It didn’t always work out as I had wanted but it got me thinking and pushed my imagination to add something or switch around other situations.
As an added touch, I penciled in scenes to link certain events on yellow paper.
A few hours later, I had my story. I taped it on my novel dream board. And because I have small children who must touch everything, I took pictures to preserve my outline. The next day I was ready to write. No writer’s block. No confusion or missing pieces.
Something George R. R. Martin might have nodded an approval to. Or he might have said “Three storylines!?! Whatever. I mastered that in chapter one of my first GOT novel.”
Either way, I gave myself a pat on the back for accomplishing an organized novel.
The Point is …
Storyboards are great for series and complex plots. I recommend you test them out. If anything, it will get your mind thinking deeper about your story as it unfolds in front of you.
Have you done storyboards in the past? How have they worked out for you? Are you intetested in trying them out?
Check out how well the storyboard worked for me on my new series coming out this late spring/early summer.
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