"One of the tools I’ve found most helpful as I’m writing my first draft is using a storyboard."
~ Kathy Altman
I tried using a poster board I divided into a grid and then populated with sticky notes, but that didn’t work as well for me as a simple table in Microsoft Word. I divide a page into columns—3 rows of 4 squares for a 12-chapter or 60,000-word book; 3 rows of 5 squares for a 15-chapter or 75,000-word book; and 4 rows of 5 squares for a 100,000-word book.
So each square represents a chapter, which means approximately three scenes per square. At the end of each row I note my turning points, write the inciting incident in square one and the climax and resolution in the last few squares, then fill in the rest as I figure it out. Usually I try to fill in one entire row (one act) at a time, describing each scene in as few words as possible, and color-coding the text depending on which character’s point of view the scene is written in.
Using color-coded sticky notes instead will let you move the scenes around on the page. The wonderful thing about a storyboard is that it not only helps you structure your story, it also simplifies writing your synopsis! Your turning points are already laid out, and you have a visual representation of the story’s flow! This is not an original idea, of course—my thanks to the invaluable Discovering Story Magic workshops!
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