Story Boarding

Storyboarding isn’t torture,

Story Boarding: It’s not torture.


I saw Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, at a conference just after her landmark book exploded into the reading world. As she spoke about her own writing process, she recounted the story of watching a movie where several narratives had been interwoven throughout the action and having an epiphany: she should story board her narrative nonfiction memoir as a screenplay writer might do.

Fellow writer, Janet Sunderland, who I contacted to help me think about my own plot, showed me how to combine Freytag’s Triangle (you remember that chart from your Intro. to Lit. Class!) and a storyboard visual aid to help me plot my story.

I’ve included a photo of the storyboard I have hanging in the hallway outside my home office. On three large pieces of paper, I drew Freytag. On Post-It Notes, I wrote all the plot points I wanted to include in my narrative. As always, I paid special attention to conflict and climax. Then I stuck them all to the wall. Now I can add scenes that haven’t been written yet, and I can reorganize scenes (and then put them back where they started) with a bit of stick-um.

Skloot also talked about transferring her original storyboard to color coded cards; each color represented one of the narrative threads. So even if you aren’t working on a book length manuscript, visual aids like outlines, story boards and the old fashioned 3×5 cards can help. Of course, there’s always Scrivner.

Author: Anita Leverich

In real life, I teach English at an urban community college in Kansas City. This semester I am living the Dream--Writing! This is all thanks to that savior of the academic--The Sabbatical. One part of my sabbatical mission is this blog where I intend to share my thoughts on, not only writing, but also the world. This beautiful life has been built on education--a BA in English Literature, an MA in Literature & Creative Writing from Kansas State U. and an MA in Creative Writing from the nationally rated program at The University of Montana. I’ve also earned a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the Stanford Online Writer’s Program. Not only have I been privileged to work with generous and thoughtful teachers, but I’ve also worked with Editor Barbara Jones in the One Book program at Queens University. The other part of my time between now and August is dedicated to finishing the manuscript I have been working on all these years (!) called Running After You: An Unrequited Love Story. Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy.

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