The Birth of A Storyboard

Last weekend, Wordbitch, Trish Loye and I packed up our laptops, our moleskin notebooks and some wine and headed to the mountains for a writing weekend. Before we could leave the city, however I spotted it. Trish’s Storyboard.

We’d both been reading Blake Synder’s amazing screenwriting book, Save The Cat and Trish had already started to employ some of the techniques. Namely, the Storyboard. I looked at her board in awe. I had to have one.

So, a quick detour to Staples on our way out of town provided me with a board, index cards, and some shiny new tacks. I was ready. Here is the journey of the Storyboard, in pictures.

The note waiting for us. My daughter left it last time we were at the lake. Nice surprise!

It wasn’t long after arriving that we unpacked the bags, plugged in the laptops and got to it. I broke out the board.

The starting point.

The title card was easy. I was going to Storyboard Drawing Free (otherwise known as Becca) I’ve been working on this story for years. I’ve written it, then completely rewritten it. I’ve edited, tweaked and written some more. I love this story. It needs to be told. But it drives me crazy. In a nutshell, the story is about an overwhelmed mom, who in the chaos of daily life has lost herself. One day, instead of picking her youngest up from school, she just keeps driving.

There was something missing. So, following Blake Synder’s advice, I was going to ‘beat it out’. I needed to make sure I had all the beats.

Opening image – Check
Theme stated – Check
Set-up – Oh yeah. Check
Catalyst -Check.

So far so good. I had all the parts that I was supposed to have. This was good. But wait.

It's coming along.

What’s this? A Mid-point reversal!?
For anyone who is unfamiliar with Save The Cat, the mid-point reversal is a ‘false victory’ where the hero appears to have won. Or maybe the reverse of that, and the hero seems to have lost everything. The key here is it’s FALSE. This is where it seems to be figured out, but it’s not.
So, what was the mid-point reversal in my story? This is where I got hung up. I had three possible candidates for the scene. I just couldn’t be sure which it was.
Until I kept going.
I plugged in each scene to see which would work best. This is what happened.
A whole bunch of cutting, pasting, hi-lighting, and messy, messy files. The entire last third of my story went through a violent cut and paste surgery.
But guess what? It works now.

The scene half way through

So I finished beating it out.
Bad guys close in? Check
All Is lost? For sure. Check.
Dark Night of the Soul? Check.
Break into three, finale and final image. Check, check and CHECK!

The final board!

The board is done. But the work is just beginning. Again. This time I’m ready. I’m more than ready. I know how to fix what’s wrong with Becca. I know how to make her stronger. And more than that, I will.
If you’ve never tried a Storyboard, I strongly urge you to give it a go. I always dismissed the idea as something that wouldn’t work for me. I now feel very, very different.

The finished boards catching a few rays

I have a renewed love for my story and also, a slightly inappropriate love for my Storyboard which now occupies a place of honor in my office.

I don't need my files anyway.

So, we want to hear from you. Have you tried Storyboarding? Have you read Save the Cat? What do you think? What techniques work for you? Or, don’t?

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About Elena Aitken

Elena is a work at home/stay at home/write at home mom of twins who regularly loses herself in her fictional characters because their lives are way more exciting!
This entry was posted in The Wordbitches Scene, Writing Process, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Birth of A Storyboard

  1. Wendy Barron says:

    I have never (successfully) storyboarded, but your success with this is tempting me to try it for a story of mine, too! I also need to read Save the Cat!.
    In case you or any of your readers are the “automated solution” type, like me, I recommend Anthemion Software’s Writer’s Café storyboarding software. It’s not platform-dependent, the purchase price allows you to install it on every single computer you own, it will run on a USB drive on any platform, too; it allows file exports, has a bunch of writerly tools like a journal and a notebook and a prompt generator and a name generator, and the list goes on. It’s a slightly different animal than our beloved Scrivener.

  2. How cool is that. I’ve always wanted to read Save the Cat. And who doesn’t love office supplies!

    I’m still enjoying my foray into the world of Scrivener, which works really well..

  3. The book sounds great. I haven’t read it but I did take a “writing hurts like hell” 12-week course once where the instructor had high regard for storyboarding. He used yellow stickies and had picked an entire blank wall in his apartment that he used for a mass storyboard. What I like about this idea is the visual nature of it and I think that could be super helpful! Once I get things plotted out and scenes lined up, I plan to start pinning index cards to my wall. LOL! And I may have to read Save the Cat. :-)
    Congrats on your renewed energy for Becca – woot woot!

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  5. amyskennedy says:

    I adore Save the Cat! and Blake Snyder ( bless his soul) and all the rest of the Save the Cat books. I would eat them if I could. It gave me my “oh, well, of course, you idiot!” light above my head in how to write a story. Love your pics. And am incredibly jealous of a writers’ weekend…is that a box of wine holding your storyboard in place?

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Exactly! It was like one light bulb moment after another!
      Thanks for commenting.
      And no…we’d never use wine to hold up the storyboards (wine is for drinking, silly!) that was a box of chai. hee hee

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