Storyboard A Novel in 5 Easy Steps

Storyboarding is a wonderful organising technique, that I feel, is highly underrated when it comes to fiction writing. It is a great tool to plot your novels and to put it all together in a coherent plot-line.

I am an intuitive writer but working on multiple long-form fiction projects can be downright scary at times because you tend to forget where you are in a particular story and what needs to be worked and re-worked on. Things get disorganised and that totally sucks the fun out of writing, even for a Panster like me.

And this is where storyboarding comes in. I used it to plot my first book Deceived and I am using it to plot my other 3 books too. So I thought it was time that I shared a little about how I storyboard. Organising tools can be dealt in any way one finds it comfortable, but many writers feel at a loss when they are to put their story into a coherent form and give it a structure. Therefore, I highly suggest using this amazing tool to streamline your novel and make sure nothing is left out or out of order. It is also a great way to let you know what to work on next and how much work has to go into a novel before calling it finished (which a lot of writers generally struggle with.)

So, here is how to storyboard a novel:

Storyboarding A Novel In 5 Easy Steps

Step-1: Base

The first thing that you’ll need is a surface, that we’ll call as our base. It can be a cardboard sheet, drawing sheet, whiteboard or even a clean wall. Basically, you’ll need a big surface are where you can plan your novel.

Now select a fitting plot structure for your novel. We all begin our stories with at least one plot structure in mind so if you don’t want to get too technical or like doing things intuitively then stick to the basic ones. If you are a plotter and good at organising stuff, then you might already have 2-3 plot structures in mind for your story, so put them in use now. If you are not into plot structuring or don’t know about it much, then go for the basic 3-Act Plot Structure.

I generally use the 3-Act Structure, developing it into 4 and then 5-Act Structure and then adding different curves of tension and plot-points. I also tend to use the Fichtean Curve a lot in my graphs, especially for tension and pacing.

Once you’ve decided on the plot structure to begin with, draw horizontal lines leaving a gap of 5-6 inches in between them. Draw at least 5 lines so that you have enough space for all your islands.

Read:

The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

Step-2: Scene List

Prepare a list of scenes that you have already written, presently working on or plan to write. For this you will have to name your scenes for quick and easy reference. For example, if in a scene, the heroine meets with an accident, then simply name it Accident. If suppose there are two or more scenes of accidents then name them Accident I, Accident II and Accident III and so on. These won’t be your final scene names, they are just for your own reference, so don’t fret over them much and waste time doing it.

Step-3: Plot Points

Make a list of all the major plot points in your story – anything of significance that defines your plot. These plot points will help you see your story in an objective way, helping you determine the key moments, the points of no return and the climax and resolution. If you feel something is missing, then better start working on your plot points now, before you go ahead.

Step-4: Islands

Now is the time to take the post-its or the index cards and start putting down each and every scene on them. These would be known as islands. Simply put the heading of the scene and write 2 lines describing it on each post-it or index card. You need to do it for all your scenes and plot points.

I usually colour-code as per how finished the scenes are, for example, the pink stickies I have used here are for the finished scenes, the blue ones are for the plot points, the peach ones are for scenes that need re-writing and the yellow ones for the scenes that are yet to be written.

Step-5: Put It All Together

Now put up all the post-its or tape the index cards as per your plot-line. Go as per the sequence of the scenes and plot points and start putting all the islands on your base.

Note: Do not paste your islands on the storyboard using glue otherwise you won’t be able to move them around without messign up your board.

And that is how you storyboard your novel.


After you’re done, have a good hard look at the overall story and if you feel some scenes are missing then simply create islands for them and add them to the Base.

How do you storyboard your novel? Don’t forget to share your experience with storyboarding in the comments section below!

4 Comments

  1. Great idea. I would usually write pen to paper and stories would flows but if I had to change method and used my tablet or the pc there would be stagnant blips and then I’d lose sight of the initial plot idea somewhere in the middle.

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