Mastering The Story Board

I thought I’d break my 2010  lazy streak this week and post again. Yeah, you got me.  A couple of writing buddies asked me for a little more detail on the story board and these guys know where I live.  So, let’s talk about how to create a story board.

1.  This is a white foam board.  It runs about 3.00 at Target. You can get them at any craft store. It’s 20x 30 x 1/16. In this case, thickness makes the board nice and firm. You can use both side of this board.

You want to divide the board into sections.  You can see I’ve got three across and three down. Each one is 6″x8″.  I’ve got a nice thick title box at the top of each box that is marked “Scene.” There’s also a vertical box that is 2″x8″  which I designated “Main Plot.”

As you can see in the picture, I have nine boxes or nine scenes. I can use these boxes several ways.  I can use each box as a chapter rather than a scene. I chose not to because I thought it would be too crowded. I can also use each box as a scene and designate “Chapter” in the small box above the words “Main Plot.” Each Chapter would then have three boxes or three scenes. (That’s a comfortable number of scenes per chapter for me.)

2.  These are post-its.  I suggest you buy these on sale at Staples before you map out the size of your scene boxes.  It’ll save you the extra effort of trying to find the right size to fix a box you’ve already made.  Each color has a purpose.

Light blue = Characters in scene

Light yellow = location/setting

Terracotta = scene twist

Brilliant blue (lined) = scene outline + scene purpose + devices used.

*devices = dialogue,summary,narration,action

Pink (lined) = scenes imparting info through dialogue rather than action. (I like including these because it reminds me I need to go back and kick that sucker around a bit more.)

The three remaining colors : blue,lime yellow and terracotta. (repeated) and  are used on my subplot board. (see below)

How you select you colors  and design your board is up to you.  The main purpose of the story board is to present a visual outline of your story.  Check out the pink post-its in the photo below.  They indicate those scenes need work to make them more active.  If I can’t blow up the building, I’m going to have to use conflict in some other way.  Maybe I’ll arrange an argument that throws all the bad feelings out in the open.  I’m thinking it over.  When I decide, I’ll take the little yellow post-its and stick them in the proper boxes as reminders of what I want to do.

The story board may seem work intensive, but I’m already seeing a huge difference in the time spent flipping back and forth through the pages of my binders. I also feel more in control of what’s going on in the story.

So, there it is.  My version of the story board. It’s easy and fun. You can reuse the boards again and again if you don’t get miserly and try to use the side of a toaster box as I did with the subplot board.  I’ve already bought a foam board to use instead of that.

Yeah, I’m a cheapo at heart.  So sue me.

Better yet, why don’t you drop me a note and let me know what you think of storyboarding?  Tips are always welcome.


11 Responses to “Mastering The Story Board”
  1. Sonja says:

    Thanks for putting that up. I’ve bookmarked it and will try it out as soon as I’m finished with this last revision.

    • ravenlaw says:

      Happy to be of help. It’s interesting how many people are curious about this tool. I like it. I’ve been doing versions of this board for years in my various art classes. It’s great to know this is yet another use of this method.

      See you in class,


  2. Neat says:

    Raven: I, too, bookmarked your story board. Thanks. I’ll try it soon. Also, I may get back to you about this blog site. I’m trying to set up one and having a bad time understanding it. I just figured out the the blogger and the bloggee are in two different spots! (Not too bright, I know, but I’m trying). The fact that you also have wordpress is why I’m mentioning this. That’s where I started.

    • ravenlaw says:

      Honestly, I’m no brain at this. You can do it. I picked up a book to help me, but those things go out of date fast with all the improvements these guys keep making. You have to jump in and start fiddling with the dials.

      See you in class!


  3. THANKS Rav!

    Seriously cool plot board. I hadn’t thought about putting a sticky for the different parts of the book- dialogue, description, etc-I’m adding those bits today.

    Cordy says HI!

    • Ravenne says:

      These story boards are so helpful. Best of all, they can be reused over and over if you make it out of something durable.

      Hoping you and Cordy are enjoying the new pool.


  4. a.m.harte says:

    Oh my. That seems like so much work. But I tend to be more of a pantser than a plotter… Very impressed by how organized you are!

    • Ravenne says:

      I can’t afford to let things slide. I’d end up in somebody’s backyard, gazing at the flower beds. lol. I like this tool very much. It makes everything so much clearer.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  5. mikeysmuse says:

    I never thought of using a storyboard technique on – of all things – a story! I’ve used them when designing web sites and computer applications. Certainly applicable to something as complex as a novel. Wonderful how you’ve kept it simple. I’ll put it to use.


  6. You’ve made the use of a story board very simple to understand! I think I”m going to create a new one! I haven’t used one for quite a while but it really is a great tool that can be used for planning other projects as well! Thanks for the great reminder!

  7. June says:

    Hi Raven,

    I don’t plan before I write fiction. This would be a great resourse for me when I go to revise! That when I tract everything and I can see where this would help me to see my story and all the elements in a different way.


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