Storyboarding a Novel
Before computers and all the software that lets a writer technologically storyboard his or her novel in Excel or other “trackers,” there were corkboards on which writers laboriously pinned 3 x 5 cards outlining various chapters and defining characters in their works in progress.
Some of us still use that method – but, whatever a writer uses to visualize the components of his novel “at a glance,” the idea of storyboarding is a great one – especially for first-time novelists.
Start storyboarding a novel by creating a “beginning.” Remember, the beginning should pull the reader into the story and is critical to setting up the characters’ viewpoints and personalities.
Storyboarding doesn’t have to be all-inclusive information about the novel – a few words about a chapter, how long it will be and what it should convey to the reader is enough. If storyboarding is accomplished with computer software, pictures that resemble and have the same attributes as the characters in the book can be pulled in and used as a reminder that one character has red hair and another gray, for example.
The “middle” of a novel is just as important as the beginning and the writer has to be careful that suspense, dialog and plot don’t fall by the wayside, leaving the reader baffled and frustrated.
The middle of the novel may technically be Chapter 10, but where the characters are and where the plot is going is an integral part of mid-novel. Storyboarding can let a writer know if the middle is faltering and may inspire him to create more momentum for this important part of a novel.
The “end” of a novel can leave the reader sighing with satisfaction or grimacing with frustration. Keeping track of the elements in a novel by storyboarding is especially helpful to provide the reader an entertaining and satisfying ending. Storyboarding also lets you try different endings in relation to the rest of the story. Looking at it from different perspectives tells the writer what works and what doesn’t.
Storyboarding various scenes in a novel can be an especially helpful tool for the aspiring novelist. Bring in “reminder” scenes from sites on the internet to help describe places such as courtrooms, unique places in the world (such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France), or a sunset in the Bahamas.
Writing a novel is a challenge – besides being a lot of work and enormously time consuming. Storyboarding is a simple and effective method to make sure a novel is headed in the right direction at all times. It’s better to be able to change the skeleton of a novel, rather than have to go back through page after page after it’s written and ready to present to an agent or publisher.