Monday, November 14, 2011

Storyboarding Is Not Just for Picture Books Anymore

Novels in their early stages tend to be unwieldy collections of scenes. In order to become a novel, causality must be established. Each scene must lead inexorably (yet unpredictably) to the next. Tension, emotion and the presence of secondary characters should also be tracked. A storyboard can help. The entire technique is described in Writing Stories: Ideas, Exercises and Encouragement forTeachers and Writers of All Ages by Carolyn Coman, but here’s a brief overview.

  1. Draw a simple sketch depicting the main event in every chapter. (The art doesn’t have to be good.)
  2. Below the pictures, write a phrase describing the action. (Use an action verb.)
  3. Above the pictures state the primary emotion.
If you do this on index cards, it’s easy to rearrange the order of the scenes.

You can check for sequences where the action or tension is lacking. 
You can monitor the ebb and flow of emotions.

Here’s my example from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the scene where Harry fights Lord Voldemort in the graveyard.


Wyman Stewart said...

Looks like a Harry situation.

SueBE said...

I'm getting ready to revise the middle grade I just rewrote. I'll be giving this a try!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Wyman: There were lots of Harry situations.
Sue: I tried this with my WIP, but my current revision is so extensive and the plot changes so much, that I couldn't do it. Storyboarding is first on the list when I finish this draft.