I recently wrote a post on writer’s block which covered the basic do’s and don’ts for anybody struggling with their writing. Since I acknowledged that I had been blocked from my novel for some weeks now; Laila basically logged me out and changed the password and then Damon thought it would be funny to hide my notebooks, it came to my attention that there was a way to regain control. I am quite a visual person and have always admired bold colours and co-ordinated colour schemes (see my Instagram for more evidence). Thus when I saw a fantastic article on how to create a storyboard for your novel, I knew this was the key to my coup d’état against some stroppy protagonists.
For me, creating a storyboard provided a whole new insight into everything I had collated since Laila first appeared in my head in 2012. I grabbed every piece of paper I had scribbled her story on, ordered a cork board online, sent my parents out for supplies, and waited. Fast forward 24 hours, and today I have a cork board smothered in post-it notes of various colours and a definitive answer to the question that had been burning at the back of my mind – how does Laila decide between fighting for Asile and staying with the humans? Of course I can’t divulge that information (spoilers), but I can tell you that it has helped me establish where the plot was faltering, where characters weren’t developing and, most importantly, why the story had seemed to be over in five minutes flat.
“You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”
—Marie de Nervaud, WD
It wasn’t that Book One was going to be abandoned if I didn’t sort things out sharpish, but there was definitely an element of uncertainty. If I couldn’t outline how Laila, Damon and Tom get from A to B, then there was no way the reader would stick around to find out either. For you, as creators, I have compiled my favourite things about creating a storyboard.
- It shows you your whole project in one flexible image. If a scene suddenly belongs in a previous chapter or should be saved for later, you just pick it up and move it around.
- You can literally see the gaps in storylines, lack of subplots or any pacing issues. I noticed straight away that, while I knew the beginning and ending, I had no clue what sparked Laila’s decisions or actions in the middle.
- It inspires new ideas. You might notice that a minor character has something important to say, and thus create an entire subplot around them.
In discovering and sharing this technique, I have recognised two things.
- Author blogs are genuinely the best place to compare ideas and find out new ways of building on the foundations of your work.
- Sticking to one project is a lot easier said than done when you take inspiration waves into account. I will be writing Eleri’s Kingdom in July as planned, despite Book One being the centre of attention this weekend!
Let me know what planning and outlining techniques you use in the comments!