Storyboard for writers: On Saturday May 19 we will be releasing How to Storyboard, an ebook companion guide to our storyboard template, and a beautiful full-color booklet will be available on July 13 if you prefer print. This was an evolution after I released the printable storyboard template and introductory article when writers started asking for more detail, so I went to work on a book. It is now written and is in the publication process, giving a fuller explanation, yet still simplifies how to make a storyboard, especially for writers of fiction, memoir, and family history stories. The template maps a story structure that sparks creativity and strengthens the spine of your book or video. If you wonder how to write a memoir people want to read or how to ensure your fiction novel hits all the right beats, learn the technique pioneered by screenwriters. This is an exhilarating process, yet the method is explained in concrete how-to language that demystifies the process. Don’t overcomplicate the joy of storyboarding. Read Related article: How to Storyboard
Release date for ebook How to Storyboard: Saturday, May 19
Release date for print book How to Storyboard: Friday July 13
6 ways this storyboard for writers will give your tale a strong spine:
- The storyboarding process triggers electric currents of creativity.
- Helps you know what to look for in any story.
- A map guides the editing process so you know what to beef up and where to cut.
- A storyboard is a map, keeping your story on theme.
- Inspires where to start and end the story.
- Gives you confidence that the elements of your book or video are compelling.
Here are some high-level tips for giving your fiction novel, memoir or video a solid structure, often referred to as “spine.” First, stories are always about someone, our hero, who starts out flawed, but likable. The more mixed-up the hero is in the beginning the better. The hero must be changed by the end. The hero has confronted his or her biggest weakness and overcomes. This growth is called the hero’s “arc,” and every character (except the bad guys) should have an arc. Remember that every great story is about transformation. Readers feel satisfied by this because seeing a hero grow gives us hope that we can too. There must be a problem or central conflict, which gives our hero a goal. No problem, no story. Otherwise, all you have is a news report, pages where nothing happens. The weird truth about stories is that problems turn pages. This problem becomes a goal that our hero wants, or rather thinks he or she wants. The real story, however, is about what the hero needs but is probably resisting. This is a spiritual journey and it becomes the theme. The theme highlights what your hero learns along the way.
Overview of the storyboard beats for writers:
The storyboard I use is separated into three acts. The template breaks the story into three acts—think of it as beginning, middle and end. Then there are 12 key “beats.” Note: I’ve commandeered the Hollywood term “beats.” In a movie, beats lead to scenes, scenes lead to sequences, and sequences make up acts. That’s a bit technical for our purposes. For writers of fiction or personal stories, think of beats as emotional moments that you want your story to hit.
What gets me excited is having learned that these 12 beats work for short stories and full books alike. I have used this same storyboard for two-minute videos and full books. The only difference is how much detail is included. In a full book, a “beat” might run for an entire chapter or more, containing multiple scenes. In a short story a beat might simply be an emotional note that we can hit in a single paragraph.
I have given each beat a name that makes it easy to remember. The final template is either two standard sheets of paper that fit together if you print at home, or an 11 x 17 poster you can order on Amazon. This is the same size I have been using for years and it gives enough room to work without sacrificing portability. You can put it in a 3-ring binder and carry it anywhere. To me, that was the biggest benefit of making it portable, but feel free to tack yours to the wall if glancing at it each day keeps you focused.
Act I. “Setup”
1. Hero before. Introduce flawed but likable hero at home, work, and having fun. Set the scene in time, place and mood.
2. That’s what it’s all about. Introduce theme through a conversation. Friends debate a central idea.
3. We have a problem. Bam! Something happens and hero must change or die. Every tale needs a central conflict or tangible goal.
4. Stay or go? The choice: continue life or embark on a journey? Our hero might resist but status quo is not viable. A leap of faith, and we go down the rabbit hole.
Act II. “Action”
5. Adventure: Our hero and cast of friends explore a new world. This might take multiple scenes and can be serious or playful in tone.
6. I think I love you: The tangible goal intersects with a new love interest. What hero wants vs. what hero needs.
*Betwixt: Tension mounts in scenes around the middle. Kiss the girl. Our hero debuts to the world. False victory or defeat. Stakes are raised and bad guys plan an attack. Note that this is not its own beat. These emotional notes are hit around this time in Act II, just be aware of this demarcation in your story.
7. Big trouble. Our hero’s flaws are in full bloom. Dubious plans backfire. Relationships splinter. The bad guys pounce. We sense mortality when someone dies. Fear. (Read related article: Is yours a redemption story?)
8. Darkest hour. Something terrible happens and our hero is ready to give up. Despair.
9. Spark of the divine: Our hero has a spiritual awakening and sees the answer. Dawn breaks with fresh hope. We are all-in again.
10. Dig deep. Friends make amends. Underdogs gather resources and hatch an impossible plan. A time clock adds pressure.
11. Go get ‘em. Race to the airport. Sneak past the guards. Then, the plan goes awry. Hero must improvise and finally changes. Victory!
12. Hero after. Our hero is transformed in 180-degree growth from the start. We see a mirror opposite from the flawed “here before.”
Sneak preview of an interior spread from the How to Storyboard print version:
Get the free printable storyboard for writers template here:
Printable Storyboard Template
Storyboard any book, memoir, biography, or family history tale with our free printable template. It just might save your story.
Pre-order How to Storyboard ebook by clicking here (released May 19)
Pre-order a 6-pack of storyboard posters on Amazon by clicking here (released May 19):
Rhonda Lauritzen is the founder and an author at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. Rhonda lives to hear and write about people’s lives, especially the uncanny moments. She and her husband Milan restored an old Victorian in Ogden and work together, weaving family and business together. Check out her latest book Remember When, the inspiring Norma and Jim Kier story.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links which means if you purchase some of the products we mention by using our links, we make a commission. Be assured that I’m only sharing the methods I actually use, but I do appreciate when you buy with my links because it helps fund articles like this one.
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