Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Storyboarding is a way of visualizing and ordering your story in a compressed way.
“But…I’m a fly by the seat of the pants writer. Do I really NEED to use storyboarding? I’m character-driven.”
Yes, my name is Julia and I’m a plotting addict. I not only managed to enjoy the process of plotting, but I am finding it has helped me avoid “stuck middles.”
I plotted my women’s fiction WIP using storyboarding software, Dramatica Pro. Admittedly this software is on the expensive side, but as this series continues I will include some information on some free and free-trial version software you may be interested in testing out.
Even if you are a self-proclaimed “pantser”, I think you might have fun playing around with at least one technique of storyboarding. It may help you in an area where you are stuck. It can help you to get a more in-depth view at your characters. There are so many different methods of storyboarding, chances are you will find one that works for your personality and writing style. My hope in this series is to provide some ideas as a jumping off point. So grab your parachutes all you mist flyers and pantsers. Storyboarding just might be able to save your plot from hitting wreckage.
Is it necessary to write your story in order? Some authors, including our Alleyite, Pepper, write their scenes out of order. Storyboarding ahead of time can free the author up to perhaps be even more spontaneous during the writing process.
Booker Prize winning historical author Hilary Mantel has a seven foot tall bulletin board in her kitchen filled with scraps of dialogue, plot ideas, and descriptions. When Mantel finds a way to use these pieces she removes them from the board.
Kazuo Ishiguro, also a Booker prize winner, for the bestselling The Remains of the Day, would most likely be considered an obsessive plotter. He spends two years researching his novels and one year writing them. That seems extreme to me…but its worked for him. His flowcharts kept in giant binders, include not only plot but character emotions and memories.
The Wall Street Journal online has a fascinating article entitled “How to Write a Great Novel,” from which I found these fascinating author facts.
- It prevents dead endings and stuck middles. I’ve learned along the way that plotting isn’t limiting, my characters can still take the story in new directions (and often do).
- Action is the basis for our plotline, storyboarding keeps us focused on the action.
- It helps us to view our story as scenic, rather than expository (the whole show versus tell factor)
- It helps us to find the arc of our story.
- Storyboarding is a “visual” representation of story. It is right-brained and creative by nature yet storyboarding also allows the writer to view the logical progression of the story (left-brained).
- Storyboarding can help us to remove scenes that don’t advance the plot.
- It can allow us to write faster.
- It can help us to find the right pacing and rhythm for our story.
Whether as simple as J.K. Rowling’s single-page method for plotting out Harry Potter’s fate or as complex as Kazuo Ishiguro’s extensive notebook system, I believe even the most devout “pantser” can find some benefit from using a method of storyboarding that fits their personality and writing style.
Have you used any method of storyboarding in the process of crafting your novels? Has it worked well for you?