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!

Discovering The Writer Within

The first place you need to begin, especially while starting a long-form fiction project (or re-starting it), is to discover yourself as a writer – to find out what kind of a writer you are. Because unless you do it, you won’t know how to proceed further, especially once the initial flame of anticipation and excitement burns off.

Typically, there are two types of writers:

  1. Intuitive writer (also known as Discovery writer)
  2. Plotter (also known as an Outliner)

Now, these are basically the two extreme ends of the spectrum. So consider the figure below: 

You will find yourself somewhere in between these two ends, depending upon your unconscious inclinations.

Intuitive or Discovery writers write based on their intuitions. The ideas come to them unbridled and then the details follow, their unconscious as well as subconscious mind working on the idea day and night without them even being actively aware for most of the process. Majority of the story as well as the elements in it, comes intuitively to them. Think of a big cauldron (the mind) on the flames of your unconscious and subconscious mind cooking the soup (the story) month after month, simmering it as it bubbles there, and gets nice and thick, as you (consciously) stir it sometimes and adding bits of veggies and pieces of meat into it. It keeps on cooking and bubbling and improving its consistency, while the writer himself goes on about living their life knowing something is brewing in their mind and that ‘something’ is going to be good! 

What their job is to give it enough time and keep on putting as many stirs and veggies and chunks of meat in it as they can, by consciously working not their stories and when it all gets too unbearable – when you feel the urge to jump out of the bed in the middle of the night and stat losing your precious sleep night after night, to grab your laptop or pen and paper and write it all down, then you do it.

This is how the mind of an intuitive writer works.

The downside is, their mind it always hyper -aware of their story and they find it hard to separate the real world and their story-world as it reaches its crescendo. It tends to drive a person mad – imagine all your characters talking in your head and wanting to be written! 

Generally, people who are on the emotionally sensitive side, and are more receptive to energies, tend to be intuitive writers. Simply put, they are easily possessed but heir ideas and stories.

This intuitive approach is the same for all kinds of artists – painters, singers, lyricists, etc.  

Outliners or plotters on the other hand, are the writers who have to outline their ideas, plot their characters and then work from the inside out. This may turn out to be an absurdly complex process, but it won’t feel like that to an outliner. The advantage is that, it is a very meticulous way of writing. And discipline prevails over creativity, so in this case you have to make sure it doesn’t kill the creativity all together because it possess the ability, and may tend to, suck the joy out of writing by making it feel too mechanical at times.

If you are an outliner, then it should be obvious to you why  you get stuck in your writings – because your mind needs an outline or a plan to go ahead. That is simply how your mind works, so no need denying it. Brace it and do what is needed. Learn to plot ahead, learn writing by chalking out a plan for what to write next. 

Eventually, when you have worked on your projects enough, you will start to feel a deeper connection with your writing intuition and then will you’ll automatically start writing based on intuition than an outline. But it takes time.

This is why you need to know what kind of a writer you are. You need to understand how your mind works in order to be able to work with it in harmony.

I have more insight to share about intuitive writers than outliners because I happen to be one. I am a highly intuitive person and as a result, I am an extremely intuitive writer. My stories keep me up at night, making me spend a lot of my sleeping time tapping away at my laptop while my cats stare at me like something is wrong with me. When I write, I enter a trance which can only be felt and not explained. All I can tell is, when I start writing, everything else fades to nothing and I forget time and space and enter a world that is not the one we are in. It is my story’s world, I am not me, I am my characters and that is how I do it and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Although it is emotionally taxing, it is irrevocably rewarding.

As an intuitive writer, I very rarely face the blank-page-syndrome, though on the downside, I cannot force myself to write when I don’t feel like it. So I had to learn to navigate these slippery slopes in order to build a consistent writing habit.

It is difficult, but achievable with time, patience and disciple.

Character Profile Sheets (CPS) – Part 2

Character Profile Sheets are a great literary tool that help you in profiling your characters, especially the main characters of your story. They not only help you in being consistent with your character’s traits throughout your story or manuscript but also help a great deal in creating as well as painting the character arc you desire for your story.

Generally, a Character Profile Sheets consists of the main physical, mental, emotional and social traits of your character’s life and personality along with their general likes and dislikes, their taste in music, their occupation, and stuff like what they like to eat, what they don’t their allergies and different kind of health issues, etc, etc, etc. Basically, your Character Profile Sheet consists of everything about your character.

Character Profile Sheets can be as long or as short as your want them to be, but my advice would be to keep them detailed because detailed Character Profile Sheets lead to good characters and good characters leads to good characterisation. 

Another great thing about Character Profile Sheets is that it greatly helps if you get stuck in a writing slump. Working your characters is a great way to jump start your brain to getting into the right mindset to start writing again.

Check out my video on Character Profile Sheets on YouTube or listen to its podcast on iTunes.

When it comes to Character Profile Sheets there are three things that you need to remember:

  1. If you are a punster then start with a basic Character Profile Sheet to begin with and add details as you go further because starting with a detailed Character Profile Sheet can be very overwhelming. But if you are a plotter then you can straight away start with a detailed Character Profile Sheet.
  2. No matter how long or short your character profile sheet is or how detailed or summarised it is always make room for character’s background in it because character background is very, very, very important an you need to be consistent with it throughout your story. Take it from someone who has written a book with a lot of characters, always make a room for character background in your Character Profile Sheet.
  3. Your Character Profile Sheet will evolve as you make progress with your manuscript so always keep on revising your Character Profile Sheet along with each and every single draft of your story. Otherwise, there’ll be either no point of maintaining a Character Profile Sheet or it’ll get too confusing for you and ruin your manuscript.

So that’s Character Profile Sheets for you. If you want a ready reference with links to some really good Character Profile Sheets then read this article – Character Profile Sheets (the links are the end of the article.)

If you have any questions or doubts or want to discuss Character Profile Sheets with me then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here are some more writing-related articles:

Thanks a lot for reading!

Writing Rituals Tag

A few weeks ago, I was tagged for The Writing Rituals Tag by my dear friend Galit. Though it’s a bit late, I thought I’d do this tag as I, for one, have tons of small Writing Rituals that I am very fond of. If you haven’t visited Galit’s amazing blog, Coffee n’ Notes, then do it right away! She writes about her writing projects and reviews some really good books, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss it!

Questions for the Writing Rituals Tag

1. When do you write? (time of day, day of week)

I love writing early in the morning between 5:00 to 7:00 am. This is the only time when I can lose myself in writing completely and get a lot of writing done.

2. How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?

I generally don’t need to do that as I stay in a villa alone with my husband and cat, and my contact with the outside world is next to zero, so no one really disturbs me.

3. How do you review what you wrote the previous day?

I don’t review the previous day’s work unless it’s a blog post. I like to write and complete whatever draft I’m working on and then give it a couple of days or weeks or months’ time (depending upon the length of the project) and then review and revise it as one.

4. What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?

I generally avoid listening to songs as they tend to distract me. Though when I’m feeling uninspired, I play Blues (either on the international radio or from my 200 All-Time-Best-Blues playlist) to get in the right mood for writing.

5. What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch youtube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block?

I watch a lot of movies and try and catch up on all the books that have been sitting on my bookshelf or Kindle library for a while.

6. What tools do you use when you’re writing?

I use my MacBook, Sticky Notes for pointers, Index Cards for creating scene outlines, Pens (Blue, Black, Red and Green), Notebook for structuring and calculations, and White Board for chalking out timelines.

7. What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session?

Something to drink – Green Tea, Coffee, Iced Tea, Soda or cold Water. I have OCD, so to keep my nerves in check while writing and to stop myself from fidgeting while writing a particular scene, I always keep something to drink. And some scented candles as they help me to keep my head calm and contain tension.

8. How do you fuel yourself during your writing session?

Green Tea, Coffee, Iced Tea, Soda, plain cold water or Wine.

9. How do you know when you’re done writing?

When I’ve gone through my work at least 4-5 times and it starts feeling like it is done.

This is such a fun tag that I’m leaving it open for everyone. So if you read this post, consider yourself tagged. Do leave your links in the comments below so I’ll know where to find your posts. Would love to know about your writing rituals!

Ciao ❤