Story-boarding

Even though I have a full plate at the moment as far as my writing is concerned, I’ve had an idea rolling around in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone. It poked at me during the night – robbing me of sleep, during the evening – interrupting my reading time, during the day – keeping my full concentration from my current WIP or the other work I do for a living. The more I tried to ignore it the more it tormented me.

Last Thursday I decided I had to get it out of my head to get some peace. I brainstormed the story, there is a picture below of my story board. Not every idea that is on the board will make it to the final story, and of course, there will be lots more ideas added as I work away on the manuscript, but this is my starting point.

My grandchildren were here the afternoon I was brainstorming. The bottom row of post it notes are their scribbled ideas for a story. My 4 year old granddaughter, the older of the two, keeps everyone in line. She told her brother what he had to do and where he had to hang his sticky notes. She noticed I hung some under each of the big notes at the top of the board. She told him he had to do it right because that is what writers do! She is quite the little storyteller. Nana will have lots of competition in a few years.

In the picture below, the sticky notes look like a confused mess. However, there is a method to the placement. There are three sections headed by the words, People, Land, Time. Like all tools as long as it helps the person who is using it, it is perfect. I have to admit, the size of the poster board was a little lacking, so on the weekend my husband installed a big, beautiful, cork board where that piece of poster board used to be. I can’t wait for the next story idea to hit so I can use it!

I’ve used this method a few times and find it is the one that works quite well. I’m a person who likes to come up with lots of ideas, no matter how far out there they are. I put every idea that comes to me on the board, no exceptions. When I think I’m finished developing ideas I walk away for a bit to let my mind settle, then return to them later – sometimes adding more. I can move ideas around, toss them out, or keep them and expand on them.

Once I’ve moved the sticky notes around a few times, shifting them from one column to another, I capture the data into a word document. I put the ideas in a semblance of the order I think they will happen in the story. I may throw just the words from the sticky in the document on my computer or I may jot down sentences or groups of words that will work with the idea. Once all the ideas are in the document, I sit and write the story between the ideas.

As you’ve probably heard other writers say, the characters sometimes have different ideas than the writer so nothing is ever written in stone until the final draft. If the characters so wish, some of the ideas will be moved around in the story and some will be tossed out.

Even though I’ve got the story out of my head and I’m sleeping better, now that I know it is on my drive I want to work on it. I’ve managed to schedule a little bit of time here and there in my calendar and for now, that seems to satisfy my brain. I have a deadline to hit this Friday for another project I’m working on, but after that I will be able to give the new story some more scheduled time. I am really looking forward to see where this story will take me.
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About Linda Coeur

Women's Fiction Author
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