Hi! I am so incredibly lucky to have Mikey Brooks, author/illustrator extraordinare, visit this week with awesome information on storyboards. I am not a plotter, but I desperately needed something because "pantsing" wasn't working for me. Storyboards are perfect for the way my mind works! Mikey has also just released one picture book and the next one comes out in January 2013 - more information below! And you should totally check out his blog. I've been stalking it forever. It has a ton of helpful advice!
Using Storyboards to Write your Book
By: author/illustrator: Mikey Brooks
As an author/illustrator I use storyboards all the time to create my books. With picture books the story is related in both pictures and words. When the words fail to show what’s going on in the story, the pictures will pick up and lead the story onward. Unfortunately with novels there’s just not any room for a fully illustrated book, so it’s up to the author to make sure the story is being driven solely by the text. This can be a challenge for some writers. Because they are using just text to keep their story moving, sometimes they fizzle out—some even stop, and on comes the dreaded writer’s block. But Storyboarding can help.
Try an experiment. Take 4 sheets of paper and fold them in quarters. In each quarter you are going to draw (now don’t be too fancy, just stick figures) out a story line. It needs to be one you are familiar with in order to know the main action sequences. Try something simple like, Little Red Riding Hood, or The Three Little Pigs, if you’re ambitious try a fairytale like Cinderella. Each of these stories have basic plot structures that can help you to pin point the action that should take place on the storyboard. In a basic plot the story should have 3 acts, or parts to the story. So on every 9th square write act 1, act 2, act 3, up at the top. This will help you determine the shifts in the story. There are lots of plots, let’s just keep it simple for now.
Within act 1 of the Three Little Pigs the three pig brothers leave their parents’ home and set out on their own. They each build a house. This is the only stuff that should happen between pages 1-9. In act 2 the wolf goes about trying to eat the pigs. He destroys the first 2 pigs’ houses and they run to safety at their brother’s home. In act 3 the wolf makes a final attempt on the pigs and the pigs succeed in defeating the wolf. A story as simple as the three little pigs can be shared in a children’s book where there are roughly 26-32 pages. Your story is a little more complicated, but the principle is the same.
Take another 4 sheets of paper and quarter them. On every 9th square write act 1, act2, act3, up at the top. Think about your story. What are the main turning points in your plot? In Cinderella act 1 ends after Cinderella has been established as a slave in her own house and the arrival of an invitation for all the ladies of the home to go to a ball. How does your story start? What is the turning point? Act 2 is where a midpoint happens, where your characters start to move from reaction to action. In Cinderella, she makes every attempt to make it to the ball but is thwarted by her stepsisters. And finally at the end of act 2 she arrives at the ball and the prince falls in love with her only to have the magic spell be broken by the chime of midnight. Act 3 is where the resolution of your story comes into play. In Cinderella, she is finally found by the prince and is lead away to the castle to live happily ever after.
Now you’re asking, what if I haven’t thought that far ahead yet? No problem. There are a lot of writers that don’t do any sort of outlining at all (and storyboarding is just basically visually outlining). Maybe you don’t know what is going to happen in act three of your book. That’s okay for now. You can story board out scenes, Make it visual. If you can draw out your book by moving action sequences from one page to another then you will be able to write out the action as well. Storyboarding can be a great way to help you plot as well as visualize your book. Techniques like this have helped studios like Pixar for years. Have you ever watched the making of films and they show you crude drawings of each scene before it’s actually made into a scene? That’s right—it’s storyboarding. Try it out. I am sure you will find it useful. You can get a FREE layout of a storyboard by going to http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/childrens-book-layout-story-board.
Thank you Wendy for allowing me to share some space on your blog. If you have found this helpful and you’d like more tips on writing, illustrating, and more please visit: www.insidemikeysworld.com or catch me on my blog at www.writtenbymikey.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Good Reads at: http://www.goodreads.com/InSideMikeysWorld on Twitter: @writtenbymikey on Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/writtenbymikey/ and on Facebook: as Mikey Brooks, or email me at: insidemikeysworld(at)gmail.com.
I’d also like to share that I have two picture books that have just been released: Bean’s Dragons and ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures. There is a GIVEWAY going on right now at Goodreads.com for both of these books. I invite you to enter the giveaway. It ends on January 26th. Click here for BEAN’S DRAGONS and here for ABC ADVENTURES: MAGICAL CREATURES.
About the Books:
Have you ever had a dragon in your house? How about a dozen? Bean is a little girl with an imagination that is creating quite a mess. Although Bean loves each of her dragons, she forgets how untidy they can be when having so much fun. When Bean's parents discover what's happened in their short absence, Bean finds herself the blame of the dragons' giant mess.
You can find more about Bean’s Dragons at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/beans-dragons/
ABS Adventures: Magical Creatures.
This is the first installment in a series of ABC adventures featuring Professor Vontriponmybottom, a heroic explorer determined to share with children the alphabet through exciting and fantastical means. In Magical Creatures you will find all sorts of enchanting beings such as: B is for Bigfoot, M is for Mermaid, and O id for Ogre. The professor shares fun facts about each creature he encounters and never shies away from getting a picture with them. This book is sure to educate and entertain young readers and their parents.
You can find more about ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/abc-adventures-magical-creatures/