Friday, January 4, 2013


Snowboarding this is not. Storyboarding is done in a cozy windowed nook in my pj's, Pandora feeding my muse, while my cat inquisitively studies my progress nearby (she's hoping to snag a marker to play with).

Save the cat? More like save the author. Never fear. SuperCat is here.
Storyboarding does have some similarities, however tenuous and weak, with the winter sport. I do sometimes feel like I'm snowing my story during the process because of the brainstorming and glossing over of details involved. I get distracted by the shiny white magnetic marker board and the mountain of blank white index cards spread all around me clamoring for an ink inscription. Adrenaline surges as I hastily scribble down every idea that floats through my brain. Satisfaction warms me as I survey my finished messy board.

*sniff* This story is crap.
Today was my first time storyboarding. Taking a cue and much inspiration from my recent favorite writing guide, Save the Cat!, I took a stab at bringing some loose direction and structure to my terrible pantsing ways (as in writing free-style without much advance plotting. Not the Jr high prank.)

Previously, I'd shied away from any plotting attempts after one such venture totally sucked any desire to write the story I'd just plotted to death. For some reason, if I over-plot, my brain thinks the story has been written. There is no more mystery in it for me. But I need that mystery. As both a reader AND a writer, I need the mystery of what happens next? to keep me writing.

But my stories often lack well-defined character motivations and sagging middles. So why not give storyboarding a try?

I fixed it for you. See? Isn't it better?
Just in case storyboarding produced the same muse-dimming effect as detailed chapter plotting, I picked a story idea that had been stewing in the back of my head over about a  year, on which I had less of a page of information developed. I started my storyboard by creating four rows of story line, with a major turn (exciting plot plot or climax for you non-writers) at the end of each row. Then I filled up the rows with index cards (using magnets; I need to get a corkboard so I can do this with pushpins), each one with a plot point/action. At the bottom of each card, I tried to indicate any main character emotional reactions to the plot point and used different color highlighters to track the different storylines/subplots so I could verify that each storyline was at least somewhat resolved by the end of the story. As an added benefit, I ended up fleshing out the main characters a bit more.

The storyboard (before my cat's makover attempt).
End result? I think it worked. I have some direction, but don't feel committed to it. I'm still interested in writing the story. I like that I can reorder cards or add additional ones easily if I need to. And it's nice to have a visual of where I'm at (once I start writing) and how much further I have to go.

Okay, so maybe storyboarding doesn't resemble snowboarding that much. But I found the process just as invigorating as gliding down a snow slicked hill! Wheeeeee!!

1 comment:

  1. Nice. :-) 3x5 cards and magnets are nice and uncommited and visual. Very handy.


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