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Once upon a time there was an author who had a great story but she forgot the who, what, where and why of it all. Had she been using a storyboard, it would all have come back to her and her readers would have lived happily ever after.

Maybe it isn’t quite that easy, but using a storyboard is a skill that may help you, as a very busy person, to keep on track with your writing. It will help you think the story out, make effective notes such as the color of the eyes of your protagonist, what he/she wears, thinks, etc. You know, the small stuff that counts so much when you’ve not been able to sit down and whip out your story in one day. Who does that? Usually, life gets in the way and by the time you get back to working on the story you have to stop and read it to see where you dropped off and what you’ve already written.

There are those of us that are Pantsters and then there are those of us that are Plotters. A Pantster is someone that writes-- lives actually-- by the seat of their pants. You know what you want to do with your story and you do it, letting it take on a life of its own. That’s all well and good until you get to Chapter 12 and suddenly you can’t remember what your character was thinking in say Chapter 5 or maybe 7 or, “My gosh, where did I write that?” It has happened to all of us.

Then there is the Plotter. Enter storyboarding. I saw this demonstrated years ago at a writer’s conference and it’s always been something that I thought I would do, but then… you know how it goes. But now I’m thinking seriously about using a storyboard. If you don’t know what one is and how it works, read on.

A storyboard is actually an organizing tool and it can come in many forms. If you have a real office or writing nook and you aren’t using the ironing board for your desk, then you might have room to put a storyboard on the wall. Next would be choosing how you are going to keep track of your characters. Maybe you could use colored Post-It Notes, but remember the sticky doesn’t always last long, especially if your board is in a windy or heavily trafficked location. Choose a color for each character and then start making notes about the characters. Put them in a row under that character’s heading. You can note what they look like, what they eat, what their backstory is. This will help you keep your characters in line.
Then maybe you want a chapter outline – or not. But an outline would give you a good roadmap for where you wrote a particular action or description – don’t forget to jot down the chapter number on the note! Maybe the outline would be the center of your storyboard and you would build around that. The notes will help you think it through.

I actually saw a storyboard one time that the author used colored string (yarn I think) to attach her characters to the outline. It was a good idea but it didn’t take long until it looked like something out of a detective story and I think she was writing a children’s book! It doesn’t matter – what works for you is what counts.

Now, if all of this seems cumbersome, there is one suggestion that you might want to consider. Software! You know those programs that we all love to love then wonder why we bothered and then the bill comes on our credit card statement and we really do wonder! Well, there is one called TRELLO that will work for you. You can find a free, downloaded program on Again, we don’t work for TRELLO nor do we have any connection with it other than this is a program that we are using for our storyboarding and it is working! Hallelujah! We also use the same software for organizing our life, our publishing company, meetings, etc..

TRELLO free is a good program to start with, you will want to download and stick with the free program until you get it figured out then maybe you’ll buy it. But start at the beginning and see if this works for you. If it doesn’t you can always go back to the sticky notes and pray for a calm atmosphere. Take the challenge – try storyboarding. It will put organization into your story and you’ll be a happy author.

Remember, we are here to help you and we do make publishing easy!

About the Authors: Daniel J. Mawhinney & Darlene Shortridge

Dan & Darlene have a passion and a heart for helping independent authors to successfully publish and market their stories worth telling and messages worth sharing.
40 Day Media LLC, PO Box 950794, Oklahoma City, OK 73195
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