Wednesday, July 24

Wednesday Writing Tip: Storyboarding

I storyboard my wips. A lot. I have a large storyboard on a big chalkboard that I salvaged from a garage sale a few years ago. It covers the main events in the story arcs of the hero/heroine and the main events in the story.

But I never thought about doing minor storyboards for the secondary characters until I started working on my Sooper Sekrit Projekt a few weeks ago. I was in a meeting (that had nothing to do with writing) and we began storyboarding different goals, etc. and something just clicked. I've been working on ways to better develop the secondary characters in the wips...had tried the interview/conversation and a few other things but they always seemed too long. I like the storyboarding concept for secondary characters, though, because it adds a bit of depth but not too much (the last thing we want is the secondary characters to take over, right?).

Here's how I do it: I give the secondary characters one goal or outcome for the book - and not just a "helping the H/h reach X, Y or Z" goal. They have to have a reason for being there. I put that goal in a big star or circle shape on my diagram. Next, I create four or five stumbling blocks - maybe the H/h actually interfere with her goal, maybe other secondary characters impact his or her life. All of those stumbling blocks are placed in rectangles and the stumbling blocks can be moments that impact the story as a whole. At the end of the diagram is another star or circle of that story arc completed - the character met or didn't meet the goal (if they didn't, that could set up a sequel)...

The whole diagram winds up looking like this (imagine these words as the actual symbols): STAR---------RECTANGLE-------RECTANGLE------RECTANGLE-----Rectangle------STAR.

That's how my storyboard goes...what is your favorite writing trick?

13 comments:

  1. I don't storyboard--way too organized and sensible for me!--but what a great way to do it. I just have my files and the occasional notebook (which I usually can't find when I want it.) Sigh. When I grow up...

    Great post, Kristi!

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  2. Wow! How cool is this? Sadly, I'm such a pantser that I'd never be able to maintain such a system. I sit down and just write, although I do always start with "What if...?" And I sometimes make a list of my characters and their traits, a little timeline just for my own information...otherwise, it's just the first draft and then the pain of revisions. I'm wondering if a more organized approach would get rid of some of the agony of revising. Hmmmm...

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  3. It's a lot of fun, Liz!

    Nan, those lists of character traits are so important. Eye colors have been known to switch - thank goodness my lovely CPs (and editors) find those little snafus!!

    And - bonus - storyboarding is something you can do *after* you finish the draft and as you're editing..you know, to make sure all those threads are connected!

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  4. Kristi, love your storyboard idea. I'm a huge plotter, so this is right up my alley.

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  5. Interesting. I always have a loose, not overly detailed outline to work with when I'm writing. Never done a full story board, but I really like your suggestion about using it as a revision tool.

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  6. My favorite is to write out 100 things about H/h before I start. Your storyboard is simple but great.

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  7. Yay, hope it works for you, Margery and Elise!

    BJ, love the 100 things idea - may try that myself!

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  8. Great idea! If only I was organized enough to use it...

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  9. I'd love to try storyboarding. I'm always looking for ways to improve. Some have worked and I continue to use and some haven't. Thanks for the tip :)

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  10. What I like most, D'Ann, is that I can arrange and rearrange. For a pant-lotter like me, being able to move things around is key!

    Christine, at first I didn't think I'd like it. Now, I've even got a storyboard in my Corkulous app on my iPad! lol

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  11. I had trouble with pacing in something and used a calendar with big boxes to tighten things up. Which is a lot like story boarding from the sound of it. :) But I used it as the actual days/time it was happening. Anyway that helped me.

    Pen

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  12. Love it! You rock! I am always reinventing the wheel, then tossing the wheel out and going back to panster mode. Wish you had a video, Luv!

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  13. I just throw some pictures of my h/h and a few details about them on a poster board and start writing. I like having something to look at when I open the page. I don't know why, but the pictures make me feel closer to them.

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