Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

The Magic of a Storyboard

82 Comments

The Light Never Lies - 3-D bookcoverToday I am thrilled to welcome Francis Guenette, author of The Crater Lake Series. Her novels Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies are set on the shore of a Northern Vancouver Island lake, rich in rural life, family dynamics, and romance.

Francis has a talent for bringing her characters to life. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where both the characters and the setting felt so real and alive. I was truly impressed with her writing in Disappearing in Plain Sight. Her style was sharp and vivid, grabbing my attention from the first page. I look forward to devouring The Light Never Lies.
Guenette - Storyboard overview 1
Francis is here today to explain how she utilizes a storyboard. I’m a visual person, so turning a book idea into a visual tool, with the use of a storyboard, works for me. It can help make the story’s structure much easier to grasp and handle. Let’s take a look at how Francis uses a storyboard to create her page turning novels.

***********************************

Many thanks, Jill, for this invitation to appear on your blog and write about the use of a storyboard for novel planning.

I view the storyboard as a concrete sign of my progression as a serious writer. For my first book, Disappearing in Plain Sight, I outlined and brainstormed on random bits of paper all held together with a bulldog clip. For, The Light Never Lies, I graduated to what I called my mini-book outline pages – one page for each chapter, covered with post-it notes. I could move the notes around from chapter to chapter, group related scenes, and colour-code settings and backstory bits, but there was a lot of shuffling involved.

The overview nature of the storyboard was something I longed for. With the third book in the Crate Lakes Series – Chasing Down the Night – it has become a reality. One of my Christmas gifts was a 2 foot by 3 foot corkboard. I leaned it, at eye level, against a cabinet in my writing space. Then I backed the entire board with paper. I sectioned off areas in the center to represent settings. Next, I created character post-it notes (1.5 inch by 2 inch) and stuck these up all over the settings. Various lines (solid and dotted) were drawn to represent connections and relationships between the characters. Around the outside, I stuck bigger post-it notes (3inches by 3 inches) that act as mini character sketches, jottings about main events, climaxes and resolutions.

Guenette - storyboard closeup 1As the planning for my next novel continues, the storyboard attracts bits of information – a fancy postcard that sets the mood, the book’s title, a poem, arrows and lines. I can imagine photos and pictures cut from magazines pinned up along the edges. The board is a magnet for layers of ideas, each addition a doorway opening to more and more.

The beauty of the storyboard is that I can see the scope of the entire book at a glance. It doesn’t take more than a moment to scribble down an idea and stick it up on the board.

Guenette - storyboard closeup 3As the planning stage gives way to first draft writing, I envision the storyboard changing. Post card size paper, one piece for each chapter, may replace the jumble that is now on the board.

The visual, tactile nature of the storyboard stimulates my creativity in ways that typing notes into a Word document would never do. There is something so right brain about it all.

So, there you have it – a guest post in praise of the storyboard – forward ho!

*********************************

Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and findsGetAttachment.aspx inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at http://disappearinginplainsight.com and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.

Advertisements

Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

82 thoughts on “The Magic of a Storyboard

  1. This is fantastic. I really should utilize a story board. Thanks for sharing. And the last book that I read that had great characters and a wonderful setting was Cannery Row. The setting became one of the characters. Thanks for the introduction. Will look out for her books. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Like

    • If you’re a visual person, the storyboard is for you. Francis really did an amazing job bringing the setting as well as her characters to life. Funny thing, last night I had a dream about Crater Lake, it was so vivid. You have a great weekend as well!

      Like

  2. I enjoyed clicking on those notes. What a great idea to record all those ideas in colors and different sizes to capture as Francis says all the “layers.”

    Like

    • She really did an amazing job on this particular storyboard. One day, maybe mine will be that advanced. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend, Georgette! I’ve enjoyed your posts on the D.C. area…reminds me of home.

      Like

  3. Jill, I’m so glad you hosted Fran today on your blog. How surprised I was when I booted up my Mac this morning and found two of my favorite bloggers in one place!

    Fran, your story board intrigues me, and I love learning about how you utilize it. It reminds me of the system we use to divide our students up into classrooms for the next academic year. Students with various needs are written on color-coded post it notes. For example, Special Ed students’ names might be written on blue; ELL on yellow; gifted program on green; problem-solving process or social work students on pink. Then these unique needs can be clustered into certain classrooms for the following year. Giving a teacher one color is ideal, (but that usually doesn’t happen in the real world), but fewer colors per classroom is better. Having a little of everything in one classroom can be really overwhelming. It’s a great visual system that lets us see who’s getting what and like with your outlining, the post-its can be manipulated to try to find the best balance.

    I like the connection you make between calling yourself a serious writer and taking your outlining to this next, visual step. At the moment I use Scrivener, which is much different than writing in Word, especially for novel writing. Scrivener has some unique features that contains everything all in one document, including a virtual corkboard. Still, I can appreciate the tactile nature of having a “real” board. Perhaps the day will come when I have more space, and when I consider myself a more serious writer, and then I can invest in one too. Thanks for a great post. (P.S. – I leave for California today…the Crater Lake friends are going along for the ride!)

    Like

    • Aw, thanks, Gwen! Francis is a storyboard machine. I think we need to have her teach an online class on her technique. 🙂
      Have a great trip! You deserve some warm weather after the winter you’ve endured. Be safe!

      Like

  4. This is so fascinating. Thanks, Jill and Francis, for this post. I love reading about how other writers process their stories.

    Like

  5. Thank you so much for introducing Francis to us Jill, and the art of utilizing a storyboard. I’ve heard about this as a way to help set out the plot and characters when developing a novel and Francis describes the use of it so clearly.
    Francis, I like how you say, ‘I view the storyboard as a concrete sign of my progression as a serious writer.’ I can see that taking this step really does cement in your mind that you are going to do this, get this book written! I would also say that I love Vancouver and what a wonderful setting for your books.

    Jill, your recommendation of Francis’s novels, so rich in characters and setting have sold me! My list is growing ever longer!

    Have a lovely weekend 🙂 xo

    Like

    • My pleasure, Sherri! Francis did a post on her blog and she posted a picture of her storyboard. I was so intrigued, I wanted to hear more details on her technique. I appreciate her taking the time to explain the technique for everyone.
      I think you would love, Disappearing in Plain Sight, Sherri, it’s a page turner. Like I mentioned in the post, I haven’t read The Light Never Lies, but it’s on my Kindle.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’m so happy your broiler is working. Hopefully you’ll have some warmer temperatures this weekend and you won’t need it.
      Derek from Devon says hi! xo

      Like

      • It sounds like a great book. I don’t have a Kindle but really must get one, I know I keep saying that but I really, really must!!
        Thanks Jill, yes, I am too and the weather is actually lovely this weekend and I hope the sun shines on you and DfD this weekend too, and hi right back to him 🙂 xo

        Like

      • I swore I would never give up paper books, I still haven’t, but I tell you, Sherri, my Kindle has opened up a new world. I like to read at night in bed and I was going through tons of batteries with my book light. Also, I can adjust the font for my aging eyes. 🙂 The best part is the storage factor. I don’t have to invest in more bookshelves.
        Enjoy the lovely weather! xo

        Like

      • I’m just the same as you once were Jill, not wanting to give up paper books but even my eldest son, who always has been and still is an avid reader with a house full of books (and my house too, boxes of his I’ve been storing for him all these years!) has switched to an e-reader and swears by it!
        I used to use a book-light too until one night battery acid leaked out of it burning my hands! So no more of that!
        Think it’s about time I bit the bullet and just went for it!
        Thanks, it was lovely at the weekend and I hope for you too. Hope you have a good week ahead Jill 🙂 xo

        Like

      • Yikes! Battery acid on your hands, that sounds painful. Let me know if you purchase a Kindle…I think you’ll love it. It’s a great way to hide our book hoarding tendencies. 🙂
        Have a great week, Sherry! xo

        Like

      • Yes, it really hurt too!! I will Jill! I heard that a Paper White is the one to get?
        Hope you are having a great week too my friend xo

        Like

      • I have a Paper White and I love it! Loved your post today! xo

        Like

      • Oh that’s great to know, thanks for the heads-up. It’s got good back-light for reading at night from what I understand.
        Thanks Jill, so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 xo

        Like

  6. Thanks for sharing this Jill! Although I have not attempted to write a novel, I can see the great value in the “story board” and that concept could be used for other types of writing as well.

    Like

  7. I loved hearing about Francis’s process. I’m also a believer in storyboarding! While I haven’t reached the level of Francis, I find it a helpful tool for when I reach a prblem scene. I have a metal reminder board with butterfly magnets. I draw scene possibilities on post-it notes, then stick them to the magnets.

    Will have to check out Francis’s books. Thanks, Jill!

    Like

    • Me too, Linda! I agree, Francis has her Ph.D. in storyboarding. I love the idea of a reminder board, especially with butterfly magnets. I’d love to see it…hint-hint…blog about it. 🙂
      I think you would really enjoy Francis’s writing style. Happy Weekend! I hope you have nice weather in the forecast, you deserve it!

      Like

  8. Story boards are great, can keep you on track as an author… Me, I’m lazy and not so organized, just let the action and characters take me where they wish me to go. 🙂 Francis’ way is much better! Very good post, Jill. My compliments to you and Francis.

    Like

  9. Cool concept! I’m fascinated by the array of methods artists employ. Thanks for inviting Francis to share her technique with us.

    Like

  10. I wanna do this!!!

    Like

    • Me too! Mine is definitely not that advanced. Francis is an inspiration for me and hopefully to other storyboard wannabes. 🙂
      I really loved your recent post, Luanne. I’m still thinking about it.
      Happy Weekend!

      Like

      • You have a lovely weekend, Jill! I am so glad it’s THIS weekend and not last: our hot water heater burst and flooded my house last weekend.

        Like

      • Oh no! I hope you didn’t sustain too much damage, Luanne. After experiencing a house flood of our own, I feel your pain.

        Like

      • Some of my wood floors will have to be refinished and there’s one section that needs new wood. There is some drapery and carpet cleaning, etc. It could all stand to be replaced but we ended up deciding not to make an insurance claim because we have a high deductible.

        Like

      • Our deductible was on the high side as well, but our floor guy helped us out.
        I’m curious, how old was the heater?
        Good luck with your repairs…I know it’s definitely not something you need to be dealing with.

        Like

      • The heater was 7 years old, but the plumber had set it down right on top of the drain so it was blocked so all the water gushed out into the house!!! Thanks, Jill!

        Like

      • I’m sorry, Luanne. Wishing you the best with your repairs. It’s always something when it comes to home ownership.
        xo

        Like

  11. I’ve come across the storyboard idea before but it’s really interesting to actually SEE Francis’ in action. To have notes down in colour appeals to my synesthetic mind and it’s something I might try when I get around to tackling a short story I’ve written and using it as an idea for a longer piece which will require delving into history. How long, I’ve no idea, but the idea is there, fermenting. I’d better get in a multi pack of post-its just in case … 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, Jill.

    Like

    • My pleasure, Jenny. I think a storyboard would work quite well when writing a short story. I’m excited to hear you have an idea fermenting. Stock up on those post-its, I especially like the bright, fluorescent ones. 🙂 I could spend hours in an office supply store.
      Enjoy your weekend!

      Like

  12. I created a small storyboard for my first novel that consisted mostly of old photographs (black & white photos from early 19th century) it helped ‘evoke’ the mood and helped ‘describe’ my characters(I was writing a historical novel). But I love Fran’s storyboard with the post-its. Great tip:-)

    Like

  13. What a fantastic idea and one that makes so much sense! We should be using storyboards in all aspects of our lives so we can have a more clear view of the full picture we are dealing with. Congratulations on your great success, Francis! That Jill can identify things that are worthy of a blog! Gracias for sharing this with us, Jill!

    Like

    • My pleasure, Maria! You’re right, we could use the storyboard in other aspects of our lives. If only we had a storyboard back in the day when we were dating…the problems we could have avoided. 🙂
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      Like

  14. What a neat idea! As per the other comments, we can apply this concept to other aspects of our lives, not only in writing. Thanks for inviting Francis over to your blog to share her craft with you. A very happy week-end to both Jill and Francis.

    Like

    • You’re welcome, Elaine. The storyboard is a great idea, especially for someone who is visual, like myself. Throw in some post-its and photos…I’m salivating. I love this stuff! I hope others will benefit from the technique Francis explained.
      Have a great weekend, Elaine!

      Like

  15. Great idea – I think this would really help with a novel to keep track of all those characters and scenes.

    Like

    • Oh yes, Andrea, for someone like myself, who can be all over the place, a storyboard grounds me. I’ve never created a one as detailed as Francis displays, but I would love to in the future.
      Happy weekend to you!

      Like

  16. Thank you for such an insightful post Jill and Francis. It has only confirmed what a completer ‘Panster’ I am in that I plan little, wing it a lot and get myself into a complete mess in the process. I like how you use the story board to show the connections and interactions between characters – I can see how this could show how those relationships are evolving. I think by using such a visual process weaknesses can be easily identified and fixed – something I really should look into. Thanks again.

    Like

    • I’m a winger myself, Gemma. I think that’s why the utilization of a storyboard is so intriguing. I’m no where near as advanced as Francis, but I would like to take it to the next level. If you decide to venture into the world of storyboards, let me know Gemma. 🙂
      Happy Weekend!

      Like

  17. Thank you so much for allowing me to appear on your blog, Jill. The level of involvement you get with your followers is awesome. I am so enjoying reading through the comments and appreciate the interest in storyboarding and the writing process.

    Like

    • It’s been my pleasure, Francis. Thank you for sharing the secrets behind your magnificent storyboard.
      Each week, I so enjoy the comments and interaction with my friends, they’re a great bunch of people.

      Like

  18. Wow, this makes me really, really want a storyboard in my house… hmm. Thanks for the excellent guest post. Have a great weekend Jill! 😀

    Like

  19. Excellent Francis. I guess it won’t work for everyone but a storyboard would be an attractive tool for many. Certainly I’ve taken note of other ways you work (e.g. the concept of micro-examining a draft m/s line by line in the final stages I find really works) and you really produce results.

    Like

  20. I really am impressed, Jill, with the author you chose and your ability to have her openly share her ideas and storyboard! Awesome Post, my dear friend! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!
    Good luck to Francis, for her continued writing career! I will probably be checking your books out of the library and reading your richly woven stories that have a lovely environment as their ‘back drop!’
    Smiles, Robin

    Like

    • Thanks, Robin. 🙂 When Francis mentioned her storyboard on her blog, I was dying to know more about her utilization of the storyboard.
      Well, hang on for a while, it could be some time before my books are in the library, but I appreciate your positive comment. 🙂
      I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      Like

  21. This is an excellent post, Jill. Thank you, Francis, for the brief but specific and clear explanations of your storyboard, especially the one-page-per-chapter planning. This is very helpful.

    Like

  22. Yesss! As always, such a helpful reminder of a writers tool, and one which is cost-free to use, too! Thanks 🙂
    peace

    Like

  23. Terrific idea, Jill! I suppose it’s a fairly obvious one in some ways. The best ideas often are, aren’t they?
    I like the sound of her books too, so I’ll certainly go and say hi and keep an eye out for them. 🙂 Many thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • My pleasure, Jo. I’ve always been a fan of the storyboard, but when I saw what Francis put together, I was thoroughly impressed. Definitely check out her books, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy your weekend!

      Like

  24. Reblogged this on disappearinginplainsight and commented:
    Here’s the latest stop on the blog tour – I do a guest post over on Jill Weatherholt’s blog on the use of storyboards to conceptualize a novel. Please pop over and visit Jill’s great blog. Comments get you a chance for a free book mailed right to your door.

    Like

  25. Jill I loved this idea and went over to Francis’s blog too thanks for sharing.

    Like

  26. That does seem to be a great way to coalesce disparate creative thoughts. The other aspect that occurs to me is how such a storyboard could support additional possibilities of how the storyline could move forward.

    I suppose all of us who write, be it a book or a short blog, do employ some method to collect different thoughts, ways of expression as occurring to us at different times and then sift them around later to see which linkage might work best………

    Shakti

    Like

    • I agree, Shakti and I think that’s why I like the idea of a storyboard. Nothing is set in stone, so the possibilities are endless. I would love to try one as detailed as Francis did for her latest book.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Enjoy your week.

      Like

  27. Thanks for the post, Jill. Francis is so organized. I used to use storyboards as a designer. I didn’t think to use it as a writer. Thanks for letting me see how helpful a storyboard can be in making scenes, settings and characters more concrete. Disappearing in plain sight is on my TBR list.

    Like

    • My pleasure, Rajni. I was so happy Francis agreed to pop over and share her technique. That’s interesting that you used storyboards when you worked as a designer.
      Disappearing in Plain Sight will not disappoint.
      I’m thinking good thoughts as you await word from Amazon…keep me posted! 🙂

      Like

  28. Fascinating insight into your process! Storyboards are great. I’ve never used one personally, but I think any way you organize a story can be really helpful. Some of us prefer an outline, some notes on index cards, some a long synopsis. Others do longer revisions and write by the seat of their pants. As long as your story gets told and you are pleased with your progress, it’s a good process. 🙂

    Like

    • I think that’s what I like so much about writing, Kourtney, the options are endless when it comes to storytelling. Depending on the story, I have a tendency to fluctuate from seat of my pants to outlining. I do love using the bright colored post-its and index cards. 🙂 Have a great week!

      Like

      • Me too. 🙂 Every book has taken on its own process. No matter how much I outline, my first draft is usually very much about discovery and taking detours. The second draft lets me foreshadow all the unexpected and smooth it out. Have a wonderful week!

        Like

  29. This may be just the option I need for my inhibited-by-outlining-challenged self. I also like that this version is portable (versus having it on a wall) so I can take a break from it if need be.

    Like

  30. Wow. I can only aspire to the level of organization and outlining attained by Francis. Hey, if we can talk Eric into trying to outline something other than his outline on how he’s writing his book by pantsing his way through it, then I’ll be brave enough to try it myself 🙂 Maybe both of us will be converted? Yeah, it could happen.

    Silliness aside, good post, Jill. It’s always helpful to see how others work.

    Like

    • Well, Eric thought it was “cool”, so maybe we can convince him to give it a try, Dave. 🙂 I’ve seen many storyboards and I think the example Francis shared, beats any, hands down.
      I hope you’re having a great week!

      Like

  31. This is great. Sure puts my method to shame. (Having post-its and little scarps of paper with notes sticking everywhere. 🙂

    Like

  32. I love learning about people’s writing process. I love the idea of the story board! It is so much more organized than what I did… scatter stickies all over the house when ideas for Dangled Carat popped into my head…

    Like

  33. Jill, I nominated you for five awards! Congratulations! You may check out my recent post that includes your name as one of my new (to me) blogging friends. If you wish to follow the rules, you may check out my friends who nominated me! I usually break the rules, am a rebel and thank the ones who gave me the award, explain that no one needs to know much more about me, unless they wish to check out other posts and list some people who have not been on any of my other award lists! I had 11 and you are on it! You also may not wish to accept the nomination, which is fine by me, too! Smiles, Robin

    Like

  34. Thank you for featuring Francis on your blog, Jill. Her process is wonderful! I may have to use that idea for my art. But I can see how wonderful it would be for a writer who is very visual. Awesome article! 🙂

    Like

  35. Wow – your organization and dedication is intimidating and wondrous all at the same time. Great post!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s