Thursday, April 12, 2012

Storyboarding My Way

by Jackie King

I love daydreaming at the keyboard. My mind conjures up characters and puts them into situations involving murder and mayhem. This is great fun, but the drawback is having to connect the dots after the fact. Translation: I do more rewriting than authors who are plotters. (I’m what’s called a Panster, coined from the old saying, “Flying by the seat of your pants;" as opposed to other writers called Plotters.)

My second Grace Cassidy mystery is now at the dot-connecting point. After a short pause for mental hand-wringing, I decided to create a storyboard, which should have been the first step in writing the book, not when I’m three-fourths way though. (Let me tell you, it’s hard to kick yourself in the behind, especially at my age.)

Author Jodi Thomas once told me how she devised a storyboard for herself. At that time she was working on The Widows of Wichita County, a novel with five principal characters whose lives intermingled. To keep the different storylines straight, she tacked butcher paper across a long wall and posted each woman’s tale in chronological order.

I didn’t have butcher paper, so I found gift-wrapping paper and lined one side of my hallway, white backside up. (One of the perks of living alone is you can do any damn thing you want in your house. My former husband would have had a heart attack about the holes I left. I think he had a virgin complex or something.)

First, I posted a short summary of each chapter to the storyboard to keep track of my imaginary playmate’s antics. I used large sticky notes (about 4x6) so I could move scenes around and see where they worked best.

Notes I already had made on index cards went on the board, too. I used sticky tabs purchased to mark scenes needing corrections for this. These tabs can be moved from place to place as required.

Next, I taped a list of characters with descriptions and other information such as the kind of car or cell phone that person used. I may add pictures later.

I put the salient plot points on sticky notes and stuck them in the order where I thought they fit, knowing I could move them later for pacing changes.

In rewrite when I find a problem, I’ll mark necessary changes on stickies for the board, add the chapter and page number, then go back later to correct.

With my next book, the storyboard will be different. I’ll post characters first, then plot points, then chapter summaries, which will be more orderly. But what I have will work fine for me now.

I’m eager to find if my use of a storyboard will help me complete my novel more quickly.

If anyone has suggestion for storyboarding, please share.

Best wishes,

Jackie King


Jean Henry Mead said...

Great idea, Jackie. I'm afraid I can't add to your wall storyboard because I'm also a pantser. But I remember when Marlys Millhiser showed me her emotion/conflict graph with different colored lines repreenting drama and relazed scenes to prevent what she termed "Melodrama."

Unknown said...

I use PowerWriter, a software program that allows me to generate outlines and compose at the same time on twin screens, with a character database on a screen down below. I love the program.

Jaden Terrell said...

It sounds like fun, Jackie. I've heard that Scrivener is an excellent program with a lot of flexibility. I use the index card method myself.

Large post-its also work for storyboarding, and you can use different colors for different subplots.