Two weeks ago, I introduced you to one of the many best friends a writer has – metaphors. Today, I want to talk about another crucial element to us, storytellers – the storyboard.
Before I show you mine and explain how I use it, I want to make sure we are on the same page.
So what is a storyboard?
Let’s go back to the basics. My dictionary states the following: “a storyboard represents a series of panels or sketches outlining the scene sequence and major changes of action or plot in a production to be shot on film or video.” “Primarily used in film production and advertising, this is a visual tool that many writers can benefit from.
In essence? A storyboard is the skeleton of your novel. It is every major event/scene/sequence your story is composed of. It is a magical tool that helps you visualise your entire work on one single page.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
This is a relevant question here and although I won’t reflect on the question here, it is worth mentioning this: you can be both or either and still benefit from a storyboard. Plotters, what better way to plan out your story in excruciating detail (if you wish to do so)? Pantsers, you don’t have to know where you’re heading. You can slowly build your storyboard and fill it in, move things around as you go. You never know, it may as well put some of your thoughts in order.
I am an undeniable pantser and the following storyboard has changed a few times but that’s okay. That’s what post-it notes were invented for, right?
How to use your storyboard?
Here is a glimpse of mine. Everything has been blurred because, well, I don’t want you to know every twist and turn I have managed to weave into my novel. But here is how it works.
The post-it notes
Every post-it note represents a major scene, an event that, in one way or another, changes the story. This is my choice. You can compose your board of chapters only, or detail it a lot more than I have. You can even make a board for every chapter and have a post-it note for every scene. This would be great to filter out useless scenes but I have not yet found the motivation to comb through my chapters.
I am writing a multiple POV novel revolving around 5 major characters and composed of 3 story arcs. To make things a little easier for my already muffled brain, I had to work in colours. Every colour represents one story arc. Within each story arc, there is more than one character (on average, 2-3 characters) but I have chosen to orchestrate my board around story arcs, not characters (otherwise it would look like a fluorescent rainbow).
So that makes it GREEN for my nomad Saharan crew, PINK for my French crew and YELLOW for my Casablanca crew. You can probably notice those are based on big setting changes as that is a big theme in my novel: multiculturalism.
To you, there probably isn’t much of a chronology on my board. To me, it’s crystal clear. That’s because I’m the only one working on this and as long as it works for you, it works for your story. I have chosen to work on this from left to right, following an imaginary chronological line but also the way my story unfolds.
Attention! The story on this board may be chronological, it does NOT follow a chapter order. You can choose to do so but in my case, I needed to realise how and in what order I should reveal certain information. I could easily build another board which would be focused on the chapter order but that is for future me to worry about.
The extra bit of colour-coding
you may have noticed the strokes of orange and light blue. Those are extra bits of information to help me pinpoint absolutely crucial events. I have divided them as such: ORANGE for secret information to reveal as part of one or more twists, BLUE for the turning points in the novel, the “big moments”, the foundations.
That’s it my blogging friends. That’s how I use my storyboard and I hope it may be of some use to you.
I’d love to hear from you too. Do you use a storyboard? Find it helpful? Any tips you might have for me? I’m open to suggestions, as always.