Thursday, December 27, 2012

Guest Post by Mikey Brooks!

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

            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: or catch me on my blog at You can also find me on Good Reads at: on Twitter: @writtenbymikey  on Pinterest at: and on Facebook: as Mikey Brooks, or email me at: insidemikeysworld(at)
        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 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:
Bean’s Dragons. 

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:

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:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why I go to Writers Conferences

Before two years ago, I had no idea what a writers conference even was, let alone why I should go to one. I can't remember how I stumbled across LDStorymakers, but it was right when I was getting serious about trying to publish Feudlings, so I was understandably thrilled when I signed up.

I have since been to LDStorymakers twice, and the League of Utah Writers Roundup Twice. I have also been to smaller conferences a couple of times. Is it worth it to keep going? Do I learn new things? Most conferences are kinda costly, so, yeah, if I'm going to continue going, I want it to be worth my money!

My answer is yes. For a couple of reasons.

1) The first is, of course, all the learning opportunities from writers who have been there, done that and already have all the expertise I'm lacking. There are all kinds of classes and different teachers, and yeah, I've gone to some classes just because my favorite author was teaching it. I don't even remember what she taught but I loved every second of it. Others, I had no idea who the teacher was when I went in, but I learned so much, I've been an avid follower ever since.

2) The chance to pitch to agents and editors. Most conferences offer this chance, usually for a fee, but you get ten or so minutes of undivided attention. I got two full requests this way. It was scary -- I almost threw up the first time, but it was a good learning experience.

3) Maybe the most overlooked but possibly the most important is the networking. Before I started going to conferences, I had ZERO other writing friends. I thought I was alone in the world (cue rain cloud over my head). Now I have lots of writing friends, and having others stuck in the trenches with you makes all the difference in the world. I write more now, I have friends to brainstorm with when I'm stuck, and there's always someone to kick me into writing when I'm feeling lazy.

So. Conferences are expensive, yes, but in my opinion, totally worth it. Plus, I've even heard they can be a tax write-off!

And what about you? Are there other reasons I missed?