Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Weird Kind of Storyboarding

by Jackie King

The amount of time it took me to write my second Grace Cassidy mystery, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, was downright embarrassing. To avoid this with my third in the series, I researched storyboarding and plotting. Then I told anyone who would listen that I would block out each and every scene before I typed one word in my third Grace Cassidy mystery.

Well, I lied!

Sorry about that.

My intentions, as always, were pristine. (And, yes. I do know the name of the road that’s lined with good intentions. My mother explained all of that to me when I was 13.)

But in my own defense, is it my fault that the headlights of my brain only show me a tiny stretch of the road ahead? (You can blame God, if you like, since he created me. But first you should know that He and I have already agreed that He’s always going to be right, no matter how good of an argument I manage to offer.)

I began my storyboard for my 3rd Grace Cassidy mystery in good faith. I bought a bulletin board at Walmart for ten bucks, came home with my purchase and marked it into four sections with masking tape. Feeling very self-righteous and completely sure of my success in this project, I started making plot points on index cards, as I’d always done.

This grew old in a hurry. My fingers started to cramp. (I'm an old girl, after all.) Then it occurred to me that I could type much faster than I could write in longhand. So I finished my notes on Word. Then I changed the margins so I could cut each note into an index-card size. These I pinned to the board.

The first section was filled, when suddenly the characters sprang to life and started talking inside my head. The problem was, they said what they wanted to say, not what I had planned. And since I’m sort of a wishy-washy person, I didn’t argue with them, but just followed blindly. (For some weird reason there seems to be a sort of magic connection between my fingers and the story. I’d be a real bust at dictating).

I’m still convinced that storyboarding is the right way to go and might save me a year of rewrites. Therefore my storyboard for my 3rd Grace Cassidy mystery is still in progress. However, my method evolved. (Some writers work with files and some work with piles. I’m a pile person.) I now pin the plot progress on my board as I go. I’m a gal who must write as she goes. I start with a premise, knowing only who has murder in their hearts, and why and who they're ticked off with. The rest I learn as I write.
2nd Grace Cassidy Mystery

1st Grace Cassidy Mystery
I wish I could be a strict plotter, but it seems I can't. I have to write "by the seat of my pants."

Oh well, it worked for the pilots in the 1920's maybe it will work for me too.


Deborah said...

Interesting, Jackie! To each, his own. I recently began a different kind of storyboarding -- pinning photos on Pinterest -- photos of clothes, houses, places, and people who inspire me or I'm using in my next novel. I encourage my readers to go there to see what I'm up to or what I've envisioned. It's fun!

Bill Kirton said...

You're describing such a familiar experience, Jackie. The benevolent 'tyranny' of our characters really is a strange phenomenon, isn't it? I've been using Scrivener for my WIP. It's the first time I've done anything other than set the characters moving and just recorded what they said and did. It feels strange to be taking responsibility for guiding them this time. I think it may be creating a tighter structure but I'm anxious that it may be interfering with their freedoms. It'll be interesting to see the outcome.

June Shaw said...

Funny, Jackie. I also wish I could do what you tried to do, but yep, it's God's fault. He made me much less organized than some others. I really like to see where my characters take me.

Unknown said...

Funny, I'm having the same problem--and I'm the one who touted the joys of the storyboard! But my current WIP keeps morphing into a different story than I had in mind.

And the characters...oh, brother, are they ever uncooperative. One girl I imagined as a reporter (and possible love interest for my protagonist) has an agenda you wouldn't believe. This girl who was supposed to be a bit player is upstaging everyone else.

I will say that as the plot unfolds, I still dutifully record each twist on my Scrivener corkboard. I just have no clue how it's going to end.

Cheers...and Happy Writing!

Jackie King said...

Hi Guys! I've been so scattered that I'm just now looking at any possible comments, and I'm delighted to hear your input. Many thanks!

Jackie King said...

Debby, I love the idea of pinning photos on Pinterest. What a great idea. Of course Pinterest, and anything remotely crafty, intimidates me. I'm a long-time craft dropout. Sigh.

Jackie King said...

Bill, I'm really encouraged by your response. I wish I had the energy to master Scrivener. You're a gifted writer, and I know that anything you write will be excellent. I'm looking forward to reading this next book.

Jackie King said...

June, you made me smile. Some of us work with files and some of us work with piles. You and I are just pile-people.

Jackie King said...

T.D., I want to hear much, much more about this as we drive together to Killer Nashville! I can hardly wait.