Storyboarding 101

After teaching on Storyboarding Monday night a few of you asked me to put my notes online. Here they are! If you want a more comprehensive teaching on Storyboarding, plus access to the template I use, and more, sign up for my newsletter on novamcbee.com 🙂 I’ll be sending this out and more.

Link to various templates

(Note: my template is not online. This is a generic one.)

The Basics of Storyboarding

~It’s an outlining & plotting tool.

~It’s a calendar-type template that has an outline of 25-50 Chapters. Each row has 5 boxes. * I always print on both front and back because my novels are more than 50 chapters.

~Make sure there is a turning Point every fifth chapter.

~Black Moment in 23-24

~Realization in 24-25

~Build your scenes from notes and/or synopsis

~Show conflict

~Illustrate Character Arc, can show both internal & external conflicts and resolutions

Here is how I optimize Storyboarding

It’s December 3rd. Many of us just finished NanoWrimo. Fact: I almost never get 50 thousand words. But I do get 30 thousand words.

In general, I outline the plot and character arcs and all major things I think will happen before I sit down to write. Then I write and play. In that way I am both a plotter and pantster. I write and write until the first draft is done. THEN, I storyboard. I write again. Then I storyboard a second time, and revise again. Let me give you more detail.

What I love to write & how Storyboarding relates:

•First Chapters

•First lines, first paragraphs

•Hooks, inciting incidents

•Tension, mystery

•Raising Questions

•Character Introductions

•Last lines & pay-offs

The way I write that first chapter, even first few chapters is crucial to get readers to turn the page. So, after my first draft, I use storyboarding asa way to check my scenes and overall pace of the story and story arc/character arc to see if it has that first chapter standard. Is the scene telling me something new? Moving me forward? Is there tension? Pay-offs? Did I foreshadows enough?

Another cool aspect isthat I can see if there are scenes that slow or sections that have far too much intense action or mystery. I can rearrange the board to fit better. I can move scenes and events, and then I can plan better pay-offs.

Overall Visual Representation  

•Scene Checklist (I check for “First Chapter Standards” in voice, hook, etc)
•Story Progression & Character Arcs
•Holes
•Tension
•Pace
•Setting

Then I read over those 50 boxes in about 20 minutes and I see the story as a whole in a very short amount of time. It’s very useful.

I always do this exercise with a pen and paper.My friends do it on their computer. Both are fine. I do all my novel writing on my laptop, but all my brainstorming is on messy notebooks and even messier storyboards.I love them, and they help me get a clear plan. Then, once I sit down to write, I accomplish much more, much faster. And I hope you can too.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Nova

Progress Report

Or: A Retrospective on My Writing Journey

Nearly a decade after starting my first “real” story (i.e. the first one I realized I wanted to finish, no matter what), I am still not finished with a complete draft. That might be depressing to some who aspire to finish their newest tale in under a year, but I knew when I started that I was undertaking a large task in attempting it: the story includes an enormous cast of characters, creating their world from the ground up, setting up a history of at least two hundred years, putting political systems in place (and the different monarchs use very different systems of ruling!!), learning about military campaigns…. The list never really ends, and the stories of minor characters have moved beyond my control, so that now when I mention it to friends in-the-know, I lovingly call it “The Epic.”

I didn’t set out to spend ten years trying to write the thing ( I probably would have balked at even starting if I’d known!) At the time, I wrote to keep myself awake through long midnight shifts at my job. The story grew out of an idea for fanfiction that quickly passed the bounds of those characters, and as I begin coming up with their names and feeling out their story, I realized that I had something unique, and for the first time started to consider myself a writer, and not just someone who liked to write. Continue reading

Becoming An Expert (The Writer’s Way)

How many times have you heard “write what you know”? It’s good advice – to a point. Because if everyone only wrote what they knew, we’d have no space odysseys, no dragons, no magical words, no elves or dwarves or krakens… and we’d be poorer for it.

So where does one draw the line between what you “should” write and what you can write? I’d say there isn’t a line, and if you’ve been limiting yourself, STOP! If you can make your readers want to enter the world you’ve written, no matter how unrealistic or crazy, then you’ve still succeeded in writing something good (i.e. interesting). You don’t need to be an expert in fighting to write a fight scene, or on trains to write about your characters taking a train ride. Same goes for flying on the back of a dinosaur, or piloting a ship through outer space – if you can make it interesting and immersive for your readers, only a few are going to nitpick the details. ♦  Continue reading

Profiting from Loss: Use Grief Effectively in Your Story

 Last time I talked about killing off your characters, and how that can add momentum to your story, and help shape your plot. But what about handling the emotional spectrum that grief brings out in people as your story goes on?

Grief is a lot like love: everyone will experience it, and no one’s experience of it – or reaction – is going to be the same.  Continue reading

What Writing Specialty Do You Have to Be Thankful For?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving lets take a few moments to be thankful for all of the blessings we have. When it comes to writing what do you have to be thankful for?

Take inventory of your writing

Good story boils down to these four factors: plot, character, setting and craft.

While there are countless other elements that make up the intricacies of a good book, these are the backbone of a good story.

Odds are, you already know what you’re good at. If not, ask your friends or writing community—anyone who’s read your work. Or you can take this quiz to find out. What’s your specialty?

Are you…

The World Builder

world-building
Continue reading

Journey to the Stars: Discoveries Shaping Sci-fi

photo-1444703686981-a3abbc4d4fe3

One of the joys of writing Science Fiction is how quickly tomorrow’s technology can surpass a writer’s imagination. Computers the size of your palm? Done. Glasses that help you see 3-D worlds? Done. Real Pokémon lurking in your backyard? Well, sort of. And 30 years ago, no one really expected those inventions to become reality in their lifetime.

So what does that mean for a science fiction writer? Should we all retreat to fantasy? No!

Continue reading

Critical Things to Do Before You Write Your First Novel

Hindsight is twenty twenty they say. Before I ambitiously embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime, I had no clue what to expect. Sure, I’d read many novels and books and blog posts on how to write them.

What I quickly found out was reading about writing, and actually writing, are totally different. It’s like thinking you’re a good singer because you watch America’s got Talent and belting out off key tunes at a karaoke bar. Time for a reality check.

What I wish i knew blog image

Continue reading

How to Write Hair-Raising Suspense

dd

Suspense.

While reading—it keeps us turning the page with sweaty hands.

While writing. . . sometimes it’s just downright a pain.

If I can cause my reader to grow a few extra gray hairs from my writing, I count that a success. *I apologize ahead of time to any of my readers hoping to keep their luscious colorful locks hair.* Here are some of the basics for adding suspense I use.

Continue reading