Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fun with Storyboards

I’m not…ahem…a particularly organized person. I like to say I’m a “big picture” person, but my best friend insists that’s just a nice way of saying “chronically messy and easily distracted by colorful things.”

More on that in a minute.

Unfortunately, I’m as messy in my writing as I tend to be in other areas. In fact, in the past, I’d often discover after days and days of writing that I needed to go back and discard virtually all of what I’d produced. This was usually because I’d ventured off onto some enticing little rabbit trail, or because I’d been treading water and going nowhere due to the fact that I had no clear idea of what should happen next in my story.

And seriously, people. Who has time for that?

When you’re hauling yourself out of bed at 4 a.m. to squeeze in a writing session, that time is precious--as anybody who’s voluntarily gotten out of a cozy bed at that hour knows all too well.  I sure didn’t want to waste so much of it writing stuff that I ultimately couldn’t use, so about a year ago I began to research story planning methods that might work well for a disorganized creative visual learner like myself.

Enter—ta-da!  Storyboards!

 Not only are these marvelous things so much stinking fun to make (Think colored sticky notes! Trips to the office supply store! Joy!), but they have really helped me keep my daily writing sessions on target—by keeping the “big picture” I’m so fond of right smack-dab in front of me.

So just in case there are more fledgling writers out there struggling to make the most of their precious writing time, here’s my own little newbie author storyboard method:
 I use a dry erase board and one foam project board for each story, but two of the same kind would certainly work. I also use a variety of bright sticky notes in different sizes. (Be sure to get the Super Sticky Post-it Notes ® or another full adhesive variety so they will stay put! 

Trust me. I learned that the hard way!)

 Oh, and pick cute colors. Because. Fun.

The dry erase board is my GMC board, based on Debra Dixon’s book  GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict. I mark it off into columns.


 Although I draw my grid with a marker, I use 3” x 3” sticky notes for the content. Each point of view character is assigned a different color sticky, and I put those into the grid, detailing all the inner issues that add momentum and meaning to the story. I also include the “hooks” of my story, those little attention grabbers that make the book appealing to potential readers.

On the foam project board, I use the tiny rectangular sticky notes as chapter headings. Once again I use a different color 3” x 3” note for each p.o.v. character to rough out a scene-by-scene outline, jotting down the basic events of each section. When I’m done, I have an overview of how my story is structured.

I then take out my smaller stickies again and flag my plot’s turning points and the black moment to check my pacing.  Since I also need to make sure the love story is developing naturally, I go back through one last time, adding pink sticky notes that detail what the characters are noticing about each other, how their feelings are growing, etc.

When I’m done, I have a bird’s eye view of my plot, and that makes it easier for me to recognize and fix problems before I’ve written them into the manuscript. The great thing about this is how low stress it all is. I have no real sweat equity invested, so I feel free to play with my story until I’m satisfied with its flow and development. It’s a lot less painful to toss a sticky note (or a whole pile of them) in the trash than it is to delete hours of writing.
Best of all, I think this is a tool that both plotters and pantsers can embrace. Now me, I’m primarily a plotter with an easily bored inner pantser. The rogue pantser part of me often thinks it would be a great idea for my characters to suddenly skip out on their planned activity to go bungee jumping , or adopt a shelter puppy, or learn to ride motorcycles. And sometimes that’s exactly what they need to do.

 But other times those tangents turn out to be a big waste of precious 4 a.m. writing time. That’s when my storyboard serves as a wonderful compass pointing me to my story’s true north. It’s a great negotiating tool between my plotter and my free-spirited pantser, and it helps me to figure out what spur of the moment additions would really make my plot sparkle…and which would best be saved for another story.

When I am ready to…gulp…tackle that first blank page and begin the first draft, I keep the storyboards propped up beside my desk. They serve as a quick road map every time I start a scene, cueing me in on what events and romantic elements need to be included in that particular section. They remind me of the underlying stakes of the story, and they show me what’s coming up next so I can keep all my characters off their motorcycles…or at least riding them in the right direction.

If you’re techy you can use Scrivener or a similar program to create virtual storyboards. They work beautifully, I’m sure. But of course, then you lose the joy of a totally justified trip to the office supply store and all the multi-colored wonder of sticky notes.

And that’s just sad.

What about you? Are you a storyboarder? Or do you have another planning device that works well for you? Share your story plotting method below, and you might win a package of Super-Sticky Post-it Notes ® along with a copy of my October debut novel for Love Inspired,  A Family for the Farmer! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

And P.S. I shared my storyboard post with Tina Radcliffe, and it turns out she is a storyboard fan. Here's her version:

Laurel Blount lives in middle Georgia with David, her husband of 28 years, four fabulous kids and an assortment of spoiled farm animals. She divides her time between homeschooling, writing, teaching Spanish at a local Christian school and milking her grouchy Jersey cow. A Family for the Farmer, (Love Inspired, October 2016) is her debut novel. Visit her website at

Get Your Copy
Home to the Farmer 

When she inherits her grandmother's farm, Emily Elliott must return to the small town she thought she'd permanently escaped. The citified single mom of twins must live on Goosefeather Farm for the summer…or lose it to neighbor and childhood friend Abel Whitlock. It's Abel's chance to own the land he's always wanted, but he won't do it at the expense of the girl he's never forgotten—or her adorable twins. Instead, Abel will show Emily how to take care of the farm and its wayward animals. He has three months to fight for a lifetime with the family he loves.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Laurel! Welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on your debut. I love, love, love the cover.

So tell us, were you always a writer living on a farm? Tell us all about those spoiled farm animals too.

I love the goose on the cover, btw.

Trixi said...

I'm not a writer so I'm not sure what method would work if I were.

I agree with Tina on the fun cover! Although I do not like geese...I've had too many chase after me, and I've heard they tend to bite...yikes! Cantankerous animals! Now ducks are nice, especially when you feed them bits of bread. :-)

Now that I'm totally off topic, my bed & a good book are calling me. Please add my name to the egg basket for a copy of your book, thanks!

Voni Harris said...

Wish I'd thought of foam project board. I currently use three bulletin boards and index cards. I will have to rethink that. I like the idea of something put-awayable or even portable. Once in place, I'll transfer them to Scrivener so I have both physical and computer versions. You know, just in case my mood changes day-to-day.

Mary Preston said...

As a reader I can see how a story board could be very helpful. Map the story out.

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the post Laurel! Plus, a big congratulations on your debut novel with LI. The cover looks great and also a lot of fun. Obviously the goose must play a role in the story...or does it?

I love all the suggestions you have shared. I'm more of a planster (part panster and part plotter) but I can see the storyboard as being a big help for me.

I would love to have my name tossed into the drawing. Thank you for the opportunity.

Cindy W.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Tina!
I love the cover too! Didn't they do a fantastic job?
Yep, always been a country girl. Apparently, as Abel Whitlock says in A Family for the Farmer, I'm the kind that stays put! My husband and I settled on this little hobby farm when we got back from our honeymoon twenty-eight years ago. We love it! (Obviously!)
Since our farm is primarily a hobby (meaning it costs us more money than it makes, lol), we feel free to spoil our animals rotten. We have several Oberhasli dairy goats, two Jersey cows, assorted chickens and ducks--and the goose of course! Currently all eyes are on our cookie-loving milk cow Beulah (also featured in my book) who is due to calve at any moment!
The goose on the cover is based on the one bossing everybody around my barnyard and she is definitely one of a kind!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Trixi!
I definitely know what you mean about geese! I never liked them either. A friend of mine from high school had them--mean things used to chase me to my car. A couple of years ago, my teenaged son got some African Gray goose eggs from a friend of his and put them in an incubator to hatch them--and I was not enthusiastic at all! We had a major storm and lost power for almost a whole day--and so we figured the eggs were a loss. (I have to admit, I didn't cry about it.) My son kept the incubator going, and amazingly, one egg hatched. The gosling had a slightly malformed foot and couldn't stand upright. We propped her up in a box and fed her--and the spunky little thing lived and learned to walk with just a little limp. She is now the star of the barnyard. She bosses our flock of ducks around, calling them every time she finds something good to eat and generally looking after them. She's not aggressive at all, thankfully! Maybe it's because she's the only one? I'm amazed that I actually like a goose! Tucking your name into the egg basket!!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Hi Laurel! It's great to see you here! As you know, I'm a huge storyboard fan. In fact, with my recent book, I upgraded to an extra large foam's huge and I love it! Congratulations on your release! EVERYONE: Please pray for peace in Charlotte, NC.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Voni!
Just in case your mood changes day by day! Love it! We must be sisters!
I took my boards with me on a little writing retreat into the North Georgia mountains last summer--and they travelled really well! I'm thinking that I might ditch the dry erase board in future and use two foam boards. They are so lightweight and easy to move around! And they do stack nicely away when you're not using them.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Mary!
Yes, you're right--they do map the story out so you can see the whole thing at once--really helpful when you're trying to figure out how to get from where you are to where you need to be! (I'm seriously directionally challenged. Maybe that's why I need these! Accompanied my husband to the hospital for a pre-surgical consult yesterday and left the waiting room in search of a restroom. He sighed, handed me my phone and said, "Call me when you get lost." He knows me well!)
Tucking your name into the egg basket for the giveaway!

Laurel Blount said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurel Blount said...

Good morning, Cindy W! Thank you! I feel so honored to be here on Seekerville, and to be debuting with Love Inspired!
Glory the goose plays a recurring role in the story--she was such fun to write about! I'm glad she made the cover.
A plantser! I love that! I feel like I'm a hybrid too. I need the structure of a plan, but then I get bored if I don't throw in some unexpected little twists here and there. That keeps the writing process fresh and fun!
Adding your name to the egg basket!

Laurel Blount said...

Hiya, Jill!! Everybody, Jill is one of the reasons I tried storyboards. We became cyber buddies during Love Inspired's Blurb 2 Book contest. (And speaking of that, don't miss her fabulous Love Inspired novel Second Chance Romance, coming next March! Squee!!) When Jill told me about her storyboard, I was immediately intrigued. That's what I love about communities like Seekerville--I learn so much and meet so many wonderful people.
A HUGE storyboard?? Wow. Now I'm intrigued again. Sounds like another trip to the office supply store is in order!
And I will definitely join you in prayer for Charlotte!!!

Cate Nolan said...

Hi Laurel,

Congrats on you new release!!!!

I'll be back to read this after work. I've done some storyboarding, but in keeping with my messy writing style, I do it in a haphazard style. I'll be back to learn from you later. Thanks for doing this.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Cate!
Glad to hear I'm not the only messy writer! Would love to hear more about your haphazard storyboard style! That's another thing I like about storyboards--they're so adaptable.
Hope you have a great day at work!

Jackie said...

Hi Laurel,

Welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on A Family for the Farmer!

My story board is nowhere near as elaborate at yours. It's actually embarrassing compared to yours. It's pretty much pictures of each character, GMC, black moment, and a few other important scenes I want to include. I'm not a complete pantser or planner, and that may be why my story board looks the way it does.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Jackie!
If you could see the state of my desk this THAT'S embarrassing! But as long as I still have room for my coffee mug and my laptop, hey. We're good. And as long as your storyboard works for you, it's perfect!!
Like you, I'm not fully a plotter or a pantser. I think I'm a little heavier on the plotter side, so that's probably why I put lots of details on my storyboard.
Well. That and my ongoing love affair with sticky notes.

Rhonda Starnes said...

Laurel, thanks for a great post on constructing a Storyboard. About three years ago, after I'd attempted to write my first book, Mountain Man and I were at a local "scratch-and-dent" store where you never know what you'll find. I found a huge presentation board (on wheels) that was a dry erase board on one side and a corkboard on the other. I convinced him I needed it so I could write a best-selling novel. So, we buy it and lug it home. The only problem was that I don't have an office. I write wherever I can find peace and quiet. . .kitchen table, deck, living room couch, or my bedroom. (Which of course is why I thought a storyboard on wheels was a brilliant idea...haha!) Anyway, after about two weeks, I was tired of this gigantic board taking up so much floor space, so I tucked it in a corner where it started to get covered with clothes and whatnot, kind of like what typically happens to a large piece of exercise equipment a month after you rush out and buy it on January 2nd so you can meet your New Year's resolution of getting into shape.

Whew. Sorry, to be so long-winded. I said all that simply to say, after that experience, I avoided storyboards like the plague! However, after reading your post, I think I'm ready to rush out to the office supply store and try again...only on a smaller scale. :) Thanks, again, for the wonderful post! I really needed it today. I'm struggling with the romance arch in my current wip, and I'm sure having a visual would help more than anything.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Rhonda! Had to laugh about your comparison to exercise equipment. I had a treadmill for years...I hung clothes on it. So much for good intentions.
That said, I'm pretty sure I'd have bought that presentation board too. (I love scratch and dent stores almost as much as office supply stores!) But like you, I'm pretty sure that the smaller, easily stored foam boards are better suited to my current writing situation.
And Jill says they come in an extra large size! Hmmm. Sounds like we both might need to make a run to the office supply store!

Julie Lessman said...

Laurel -- sticky notes -- my kind of gal!!

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, LAUREL -- FUN POST!! Because let's face it -- anything with sticky notes IS fun for me, so BULL'S-EYE!!

Scrivener scares the heck out of me, so your process appeals to me SO much more! What I do now is basically what you do, but in a Word doc, so I'm missing those colorful sticky notes, which cover my desk about other things! Of course, I do often highlight points I want to remember or passages I need to edit for something in particular.

I have a question: do you use sticky notes for everything? Because I do, especially when people ask me to pray for something, so they come in quite handy. But, YES, I hate the generic kind that never stick, so THANK YOU for telling me about the super sticky ones -- will check them out. And what's with the ones that are glued top to bottom like an accordion??? They drive me crazy!!

SUPER CONGRATS on your debut, Lauren!!

One last question: did you have to write a sticky note to remind you about this blog? I would have. ;)


Josee Telfer said...

Hi Laurel! Congratulations on your debut novel! I'm working towards that having completed my first book and now revising, revising, revising.

Having only written one book so far, I have no idea yet if I'm a pantser or a plotter (spell check keeps changing that to 'panther'!) but I'll venture a guess of somewhere in the middle.

I've seen print outs on characters, for example, where you fill in everything about them from how they take their coffee, to what books are on their shelves. I didn't do any of this and no story board either. Now, I have been carrying this particular story around for a long, long, time so I already knew how it would play out in my head (down to dialogue, even) but I plan on writing a lot more books and I believe structure will help me. I'm very organized by nature but I'm not the type for instance, to write out a list, ever. I keep everything in my head. (Though my mom reassures me this will change the older I get.)

So, all of that to say, I'm going to try a storyboard for my next book.

I'm curious if any of the seekers do NOT use a storyboard, at all, like ever?

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Laurel! Looks like a fun way to put together a story, especially for those with a strong visual bent.

I'll definitely be on the look out for your book!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Julie!
Are you kidding? Sticky notes galore. I even had dreams that I got my days mixed up and showed up late for this party. Glad I didn't--this is fun!
I share your fear of Scrivener. I have it on my computer, but I am still eyeing it it's a spider lurking in the corner of my closet. Is there a support group for this?
Yes, the super sticky notes take awesomeness to a whole new level!

Connie Queen said...

Laurel, perfect timing for this post!

The last couple of weeks I've been flaying about, skipping scenes and struggling w/what to write on my suspense wip. Even though I have a general idea of the book, I don't have everything figured out.

Yesterday I sat down and started jotting down everything you're talking about today, except my way is much more boring. I see a trip to town in my future.

Love your cover!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Josee,
I love your name!! Big congratulations for completing your book! That's a huge accomplishment!!
I tried those detailed character sheets. I never really felt they worked well for me either. I have a strong sense of my characters, but I don't know every detail about them. Everybody's entitled to a few secrets, even story people, right?
Hope you have fun trying out a storyboard! I'm interested to hear what the other Seekers have to say about their storyboard use!
Congratulations again on finishing your book and hope the revisions go smoothly!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi Glynna Kaye
So many beautiful names on here! I really do enjoy concocting my story boards--it's one of my favorite parts of the writing process!
This is bunches of fun too! I love this chance to touch base with so many great people. Now if I could just figure out a way to incorporate a few office supplies...

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Connie,
Oooh, suspense! I bet a storyboard could be very useful as you cook up all the plot twists and turns a suspense requires! I would definitely need help keeping everything on track!
If I have inspired even one trip to an office supply store, I've done my good deed for the day! Just wish I could go with you! Although they might have to restock!

Audra Harders said...

Hi Laurel, great to see you in Seekerville! And talk about a topic close to my heart. I love using a storyboard to track my story. Working with sticky notes and all the fun colors gives my pantser brain something to chew on as I try to bring some plotter into my writing world (much like tossing a chew bone to a demanding puppy).

I am a firm fan of Scrivener, but I've found that working on a computer at my day job and then coming home to a computer in the evening, is not conducive to creativity. Working with little squares of brightly colored paper is like taking a vacation and still being productive.

Thanks for sharing, Laurel!

LeAnne Bristow said...

Oh Laurel! We could be sisters! I love, love, love your post! I use storyboards too. It's one of the few organized things in my unorganized life. Okay. Messy. Cluttered. Whatever. Anyway, story boards keep me on the main road while still allowing me to take a few side trips when my characters need to go bungy-jumping. (You almost made me spew my coffee when I read that part!)
I am an avid Scrivener fan, but like Audra, I prefer little brightly colored squares. They make me happy. So I use post-its for my story board and stick to Scrivener for my words.
Congratulations on your debut! I'm so happy for you!!!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing your storyboarding tips, Laurel! As a pantser, I can't think in that much detail about my story, but I do make good use of the cork board feature of Scrivener for a bird's-eye view of my story as it unfolds. It helps me see what's already happened and to whom so I can begin to imagine what should happen next.

Edwina said...

Hi Fellow Georgian! Congratulations on your debut - can't wait to read it!

I'm a panster, but you've offered such great tips today, I'm going to give storyboarding a try!


Marianne Barkman said...

I just saw your books someplace on the 'net this morning actually..either email or Facebook, and I love it. Although I've never had a runin with a goose, I'm sure they are either a love or hate creature. I think my Mom's mon raise geese.
I love the visuals of post it notes. I'm so disorganized I don't think even they could help me, but they sound like fun! Glad to have you here, Laurel, and looking forward to reading your novel!

Janet Dean said...

LAURA, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for your interesting post. I haven't used a storyboard but all the colorful sticky notes look like fun! I make copious notes of GMC, wounds, strengths and weaknesses of my characters, then figure out the black moment and crisis and turning points. This entails shuffling a lot of paper. May give your technique a try.

Your story sounds great! Love the cover!


Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm a Scrivener failure myself. I have even taken the class.

But you can't fail storyboards. Get yourself a science fair 3D board at Michaels and you are a success. And I'm with Laurel. I am a sticky note groupie.

If you had to choose between all the sticky notes on your desk, which is your favorite, Laurel.

Mine is the yellow Post-IT squares with lines on them.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Laurel, do you write at your desk or are you a laptop/tablet wanderer?

And of course we want to know what you're working on next!!!

Janet Dean said...

Sorry, Laurel, for mistyping your name. I'm on my phone and the print is so small I got your name wrong!


Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Audra!
"Working with little squares of brightly colored paper is like taking a vacation and still being productive." Exactly!! Well said!
I think Scrivener looks like a great writing tool--I just need to gather up my courage, jump in and start figuring it out. I can't imagine giving up my stickies though, so I'll probably follow your example and use both!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, LeAnne! Your system with Scrivener sounds like one I could use--Scrivener for words and a story board on the side for the road map.
I loved what you said about your storyboard being one of the few organized things in your life! I have an uber organized friend who was visiting me one day, and I found her studying my storyboard with this expression of wonder. I thought she was just totally impressed with my gripping story line, but she turned to me and said, "This is so organized! How on earth did YOU do that??" I had to laugh.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, thankyouverymuch!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Myra!
I think it is fascinating that people create their stories so differently. I kind of wish I could come up with a coherent story as a total pantser--I think it would be such fun togo along on the adventure with my characters, not knowing ahead of time what twists and turns the plot might take! I think doing all your plotting and writing simultaneously must be a bit like patting your head, rubbing your stomach and jumping up and down on one foot all at the same time. I was never good at that either. But I sure do admire people who can do it!!
So, you sort of storyboard retroactively on Scrivener? That's really interesting! Yet another reason for me to give Scrivener another go!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Edwina!
So great to hear from a fellow Georgian! I'm about an hour or so south of Atlanta. Where are you?
I'm glad you're going to give storyboards a try! And I'm seriously thinking of revisiting Scrivener, based on some of the comments from others. It's so much fun to try new story-writing of many reasons I love interacting with other writers!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Marianne!
Yes, I think geese are definitely love 'em or hate 'em creatures. After my encounters with my friend's attack geese, I never ever wanted to have any. But our goose is pretty easy going. She honks a lot but has only bitten a couple of times--once when my teen-aged son accidentally stepped on one of "her" ducks. She nipped him on the leg and set up a huge fuss. The duck was fine, but she's very protective of them. Since we don't have a gander, I guess the ducks are her substitutes for goslings.
Glad to hear my book is out and about and being seen--so exciting!

Meghan Carver said...

Hello, Laurel, fellow homeschooler! Excuse me for a moment while I check a spelling list and tell the 5yo to stop making his dinosaurs eat everyone's papers. :-)

I love your storyboard idea! I'm mostly paperless, but I do something similar in Word, starting with a basic plot and then going back through and adding more and checking spiritual and romance arcs. The ability to move things around easily makes me want to try this with the sticky notes. I have Scrivener, but it's on an old laptop and I never really learned it. Maybe I need to get that figured out!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Janet!
LOL,don't worry about the name mistake. My phone does that kind of thing to me all the time.
I used notebooks and legal pads before I tumbled on to storyboards, but I kept losing them. (I'm not too organized, and I also have four kids, so sometimes I have help misplacing my stuff.) Storyboards are too big to lose so they work better for me!
Like you, I try to figure out the GMC stuff first and plot on from there!

Mary Connealy said...

Laurel this is so cool. I love it.
I can't imagine making this work for myself.
You think YOU'RE disorganized, I can just see me digging through my cluttered desktop and discovering the story board lost beneath seven books, eight hundred sheets of mixed up mail and computer printings, an old sub sandwich and a small, calcified, deceased pet.

Mary Connealy said...

I make these character charts on my computer, then I forget them, fail to update when i 'realize' the hero's hired man cowpoke's sister would make a good heroine for book three and her eyes are grayish - green but I made them chocolate brown.

Then later I think, "What color were her eyes?"
I check the chart, am charmed by the grayish-green and write on, only to have my heroine's eyes now blinking stoplight like color changes.

Mary Connealy said...

That whole 'disorganized' thing.....I do not think it means what you think it means. (To quote The Princess Bride)

Debby Giusti said...

Laurel, I'm thrilled that you can be with us today!!! Sending Georgia hugs. I've brought cheese grits and sweet tea for a morning snack. I'm sure Patti Jo will bake something peachy this afternoon.

I'm in awe of your storyboard. You lay everything out at the onset. I've got most of my story in my head when I start writing, but I can't go chapter by chapter.

Am I right that you write your synopsis after you've created your board? It's all there, isn't it?

And Tina does this as well?

My hat's off to both of you! You're uber-organized whether you call it playing with colorful sticky notes or not.

And you speak Spanish? And teach Spanish? Plus home school. Plus write for Love Inspired!!!

Your first book released yesterday!!! Am I right? Woot!!! So thrilled for you. You'll be signing at M&M? Save me a copy.


Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Tina! Thanks so much for inviting me here--I'm having a blast.
I definitely need to stay put when writing. Currently I hole up at a desk in my oldest daughter's room. She's away at college, so I've set up a little corner with my laptop, my storyboards and a generous supply of sticky notes. I only move to a different place when she's home on a visit. I would love to write on the go more, but I'm so easily distracted, I seem to do better when I stay in my designated spot.
Pick a favorite sticky note? Wow--that would be like picking a favorite child. I love 'em all!
Right now I'm working on my next Love Inspired--set in the same Georgia town of Pine Valley The hero is the minister from A Family for the Farmer! I'm having tons of fun with it!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Laurel, Great post on storyboards. I"m a big fan of storyboards. However, they've had to shrink in size due to living in my RV right now. But the visual reminders really help.

I like photos of characters also. Helps me keep them with the same color hair and eyes all the way through. LOL

Thanks for posting with us today. Have fun here in Seekerville.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Meghan!
At least you're getting some schooling done! Homeschooling is like being an air traffic controller some days, isn't it?? We're taking the day off and will do a make up day on Saturday--I feel like I'm playing hooky sitting here at the computer during school time! What fun!
I do love playing with the sticky notes, but all these Scrivener fans have me interested in revisiting that too. I've always thought it sounded like a great program for writers!
But I'm definitely still keeping my sticky notes. They are such fun...and also I own about a bazillion packs of them right now!
There was a sale. And I was unsupervised at the time.

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

I love the idea of a storyboard--thanks for explaining how it works. I'm also a messy disorganized person and notes work great for me--if I don't lose them. So sticky Post-it's? Great!!!
My only problem with the storyboard idea is that I travel all the time with my hubby (for his job), so I think a techie version might be best for me, so it can easily follow me around. Someone recently told me about an app that is similar to Scrivner, but easier and FREE! It's called ywriter & I'm going to give it a try. If that doesn't work, then maybe file folders with colorful post its? Small & can fold up & fit in my suitcase? Thoughts to ponder...
Please include me into your basket for your book & also for Post-It's.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Mary!
I thought about you today as I made a fuss over our Jersey cow's much anticipated new calf! I was wondering if I needed a "shark cage" the way Beulah was eyeing me! Fortunately, Beulah decided to allow me to inspect her baby without incident.
And soon--fresh milk again! Woo hoo!
I have done the EXACT SAME THING with the eyes. In fact, I probably need to start another board with character photos and physical descriptions on it. I really like that idea!! Hmmm.
Believe me, if you saw my desk right now, you would have no doubts about my level of disorganization...

Missy Tippens said...

Laurel, welcome! I've done actual story boards before. I used the back of my son's science project poster! LOL I also now use Scrivener's cork board to plan out scenes. But you're right about how fun it is to use all those sticky notes in cool colors. :) I may need to try that again soon.

Janet Dean said...

Laurel, I don't lose the papers--they're printed from a file so I can always print them again and do when I change stuff. Sometimes I discover the GMC is wrong. The best thing about the storyboard is seeing the entire thing at once.


Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Debby!
Another Georgia girl! Love the down home snacks!
I do write my synopsis after I get everything mapped out on the storyboard. But I call it a "story narrative" because the very word "synopsis" kinda makes me want to run away from my desk and join the circus! However, it's basically the same thing! That step helps me see if the story hangs together well--and I go back and change out some sticky notes if it doesn't!
Yes, I teach Spanish part time for a local Christian school. As a matter of fact I'll be heading over there to put in my two hours of teaching in just a bit--but I'll be back after that for more fun here!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Sandra!
Wow--living in an RV! That sounds interesting! My husband and I have been looking at either renting or purchasing an RV for a big family trip around the U.S.
I am intrigued by Vicki's idea about using file folders that can be folded up for travel. So many ways to do this!
And I am definitely going to print out the pictures I chose for my characters. I have them on my computer--don't know why I don't have them displayed right in front of me! You are right--the visuals really help!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Vicki,
I haven't heard of ywriter before, but it sounds very interesting! And like I said above, I think the idea of the folders and the sticky notes is a great travel-friendly adaptation!
Will definitely tuck your name in the egg basket!!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Missy! I did the same thing--the very first story board I used was from an old science project! Worked just fine!

Laurel Blount said...

I totally agree, Janet--love the overview of the plot you get with a storyboard!

Cindy Regnier said...

Sorry I'm late to the party. Laurel, all I can say is WOW. I wish I could do those storyboard things. It's a great post and gives this panster something to aspire to. Your book looks wonderful. Love farmers (my hubby is one!)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Trello is another sticky note application that you can use to create a storyboard.

You can even invite critique partners to join you to brainstorm virtually.

Julie Lessman said...

LAUREL SAID: "I share your fear of Scrivener. I have it on my computer, but I am still eyeing it it's a spider lurking in the corner of my closet. Is there a support group for this?"

LOL ... oh, no ... not another support group!! I think I'm maxed out when it comes to social media and technology!! ;)

And good analogy on the spider!


Pam Hillman said...

This is so cool! I love the idea of a physical storyboard, but I don't have the patience to hand write all that down and then try to figure out where to place it, then REPLACE it.

For a long time I used a virtual storyboard using ... you guessed it .... an EXCEL spreadsheet. I had many, many tabs describing scenes, GMC, backstory, characters, research, etc. But some things needed to be in Word, even the manuscript.

Eventually, as you mentioned, I embraced Scrivener and I'm falling head over heels in love with it. I've written half-a-dozen novellas using Scrivener and just finished and turned in my latest full-length novel with it. And, yes, I make use of the "virtual" color coding that Scrivener offers so I can see some of that same journey you're talking about.

In my early brainstorming, I create enough new "notecards" in Scrivener to write the novella/novel, then I start plugging holes. For a couple of my novellas, the synopsis was of such a chronological nature that I was almost able to plug it sentence by sentence into each scene and write the novella. That doesn't happen very often. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...


You are now scaring me into learning Scrivener again.

BTW, Gwen Hernandez wrote Scrivener for Dummies has classes.

Mary Connealy said...

Baby Jersey Calves!!!
The babies look so much like fawns!

Enjoy the little sweetie...and the milk

Mary Connealy said...

Having the actual CHARACTER chart printed out and hanging where I can see it might save me from this little mental prat falls where I forget to change it.
I oughta try it.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Cindy! You're not a bit late! And I'm with you--farmers are the best!!

Laurel Blount said...

Wow, Tina!'m making a note to check that out. I love the idea of brainstorming with critique partners!
Scrivener for Dummies--that sounds like a good starting point for me!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Pam--stories like yours make me want to take another look at Scrivener's possibilities! Sounds like you're really making the most of it!

Valri said...

Darling cover, Laurel! Animals and kids! Nothing better than that! congrats on your debut novel! That's a dream come true for you, I'm sure! I'm a reader and I love to know the process that writers have. Thanks for sharing!

Laurel Blount said...

Thanks, Valri! You are absolutely right--definitely a dream come true! I've loved every minute of it.
I think the cover is beautiful, too. I loved it the instant I saw it! They really captured the heart of the story, I think!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Laurel, welcome to Seekerville!!! First, I am in love with your cover. Oh my stars, it totally draws me in, the farm, the kids, the sweetness! YES!!!!!

And huge congrats on your debut novel! YAY!!!!! We think that's pretty cool beans around here. What a wonderful thing to have happen, right????


And I love your little farm quips on facebook, and how delightfully normal (by Ruthy standards!) you are.

YES AGAIN!!!!!! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Joining in prayers for Charlotte. This makes me so sad. I want peace everywhere and I want everyone to have a job and food on the table...

And I want every child to know that they're special beyond belief.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Josee, I don't use storyboards. I don't use any prompts. I do jot add things to a bullet list as I add them into a story so that I don't forget what I've done a hundred pages later... and the bullet list helps to remind me what emotions and takeaways I want the story to have as I thread it along/build it.

But I know lots of writers use these or similar things to organize their thoughts. I'm a Plantser too, I have the outline in my head, but it changes as I write so it's an unscripted plan.

But I'm always amazed by ORGANIZED PEOPLE!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

When Scrivener came out I made a personal pledge to not teach myself any more new methods...

I think because the old method was working fine, so if it ain't broke???

But Pammers and several others love it, so I think that comes back to mental organization.

Is this where I should admit again that I can't figure out a spread sheet.... or sheet music... to save my life?


Laurel Blount said...

Hiya, Ruthy! I'm having a t-shirt printed up that says "Delightfully Normal (by Ruthy standards)". Love it!!
YES to all your YESES, so VERY excited about every bit of this---not the least of which is being a part of this wonderful community of fellow writers and readers! You all bring fabulousness up to a whole new level!
(And I can't figure out a spread sheet either....)

Nicky Chapelway said...

I'm not a story boarder just yet, but seeing as I have the exact same problems that you described early on in your post I should probably start a storyboard of some sort.

I'm inherently a panster, but the further I get into my story the more time I spend brainstorming it and the more I know about what is going to happen in it. However, I have been known to completely change the course of the story and end up having to rewrite fifty pages or so. Which really isn't cool when you were planning on starting to publish your book Saturday and you realize that you have to rewrite the entire last bit of your story...

Please enter my for the drawing!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Nicky! I feel your pain. I recently got totally stalled out in a scene. I knew what I had planned to have happen, but my characters just stood there and looked at me've GOT to be kidding! I was getting zero cooperation from them---sort of reminded me of years ago when I would struggle to dress a limp toddler up for church.
I ended up having to backtrack a little bit and restart in a slightly different direction, then it worked.
Storyboards definitely help me, but I still hit my fair share of dead ends, that's for sure!
Slipping your name into the basket for the drawing!

Chill N said...

Hi Laurel! Always fun to read what processes writers have discovered work for them. Cheers for your debut novel -- how exciting! Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate :-)

Nancy C

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Nancy! Yes--definitely a reason to celebrate!! Thanks for the cheers!!

Boo Smelser said...

Congrats on your debut- and it's cover! I don't have a storyboard, but before starting new series, I like to get together an 'author helper' which has things like characters pictures and profiles, timelines, and plot lines in it, though I don't necessarily stick to it or find everything I need in it- there are plenty of notes in my stories myself to tell myself to add something I just thought of in the next scene or plan out exactly how my chapter is to go now that I've reached it. And typing up my story, I usually have a long paragraph in the beginning under the subtitle 'Notes:' with a list of things I need to go back and add.

Pam Hillman said...

Tina, I took one of Gwen's classes before I had actually used Scrivener... wait, let me rephrase that. I signed up for one of her classes and didn't know anything about Scrivener. I could barely operate my Mac at the time. I saved all the lessons I think, so thank you for reminding me of those classes. Now that I know a bit more about how it works, those lessons would come in handy! :)

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Boo! I really like your idea of an author helper! I love to make notes as I write--I usually do it retroactively. I'll think--wow, I should have added such and such into that scene--so I go back and make a note. Then when I start the second draft, I go through and deal with all the notes first.
The trick for me is to make that note right when I think of it--otherwise I forget! And why, oh why do I ALWAYS think of the best stuff when I am in the shower??

Rhonda Starnes said...

Pam, I think you should teach a class on Scrivener! I'd sign up!! I've tried to embrace Scrivener, but I know I'm not using all the features that are available.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I have all the Scrivener notes from the class. I am a Scrivener failure. Storyboards I can succeed with. I am all for feel good success.


When I am a rich author I will sign up for one-on-one Scrivener for old people class.

Vince said...

"When I am a rich author I will sign up for one-on-one Scrivener for old people class. "

TINA: I'll sign up for that now. I don't have time to wait unit I'm a rich author. Where do I go?

I think the key to Scrivener is to read the Dummies book and then only learn what you need when you need it and then use that feature enough to make it second nature. I can do everything I need to do with Scrivener but no more. But when I need more features, I check the Dummies book.

Another thing: Those cute colorful sticky notes cost an arm and a leg. For one novel's worth you can buy Scrivener! Also Scrivener's Corkboard has a search feature and many color choices that you can change midstream. Scrivener is worth the price just to use the corkboards.

The best thing I like about Scrivener is being able to format my WIPs in mobi so I can proof them on my Kindle! And let me tell you this: my WIP looks just like a Jack Reacher novel on my Kindle. Having your book look just like it will look when it becomes a Kindle ebook is very encouraging. Try it if you can.


Please put me in the drawing for "A Family for the Farmer". I'm a big LI fan but I've not yet read Laurel. Much interested.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Here you go, Vince.

Debby Giusti said...

Laurel, I like the term story narrative much more than synopsis. Thank you! I need to write a story narrative over the weekend. Feel so much better now that it's not a synops!

Tanya Agler said...

Hi, Laurel! So glad to stop by for a few minutes as I'm not in Georgia right now! Thanks for showing me your story plotting method. I'm an outline and index cards person, and I do like Tina's spreadsheet timeline method. I love all these tricks as I am about to start editing my WIP, and it might help me find holes and make sure I have enough conflict.

And I have a copy of your lovely book. Thanks so much.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Jack! I agree with you that proofing your novel on Kindle is a wonderful strategy. A writer friend suggested it, and I imported my wip directly from Word to Kindle. I'd been over it multiple times by then, but I was amazed at how much more clearly I saw it in that format. Something about seeing it as a "real" book helped!
Putting your name in the drawing!

Laurel Blount said...

LOL, Debby, glad I could help!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Tanya! I know--I'm always interested in learning tricks and techniques from other writers! I also love any chance to talk about plotting, characters, conflict and editing....all those topics near and dear to my heart that make my husband's eyes glaze right over!

Rebecca McLafferty said...

Hi Laurel. I so enjoyed this lesson. I've never made a storyboard, but now feel compelled to do so. I use a quick-glimpse chapter-by-chapter synopsis, but don't use it as often as I should...and it's not nearly as fun as those colored sticky notes would be. AND when I don't use it, it's so easy to get off track. Yes, I will stock up on sticky notes now. Thank you, thank you. Also...LOVE, love, love the book cover. Can't wait to read your new book. Blessings to you.

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Rebecca! Sounds like a sticky note shopping expedition is in the works! Yay! I hope you enjoy creating your storyboard--I always do, and we sound a lot alike! And it really does help keep me on track.
Have fun and happy writing!

Jeanette Hill said...

I have been thinking about using some type of story boarding technique because my mind is all over the place. I just happen to several packages of those colorful Post It notes (love color)!
Praying for Charlotte and other impacted cities!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Jeanette! Sounds like you are all ready to start storyboarding!!
Yes, I am definitely keeping Charlotte in my prayers today as well.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

I'm very late to the party here.

Wow, Laurel...
You give me hope!
Plus who doesn't want to go to the office supply store?! Big Lots and dollar type stores are great places for bargains too. YAY!

I'm so glad you SHOWED us and told us, and thanks for including Tina's board also.

Need to re-read this to fully grasp the concept. I'm a reformed pantster so she goes rogue more often than not.

Your new book looks great. LOVE hearing about the spoiled farm animals. We're owned by 2 horses, 3 rescue dogs and 1 rescue cat. HA! You teach Español. Necessito practicar!

Don't know where your school is located but we do school author visits. Would be fun to visit Seekervillagers here, there and yon.

Hats off to you 4am writers. Wow. My eyes are slits at that time of day. Can't even see the keyboard...

Vince said...


OMG! Thanks for the link to the Scrivener classes and now I see why you will wait to you are rich and famous! I think the new first course fee is more than all three course fees I paid when I took them last year from the same school.

I can do everything I want to do with Scrivener now by checking with the Dummies books. I know it does 95% more than I know how to do but it still does what I want the best I've found so far.

Here's a 6 minute tutorial on how to use pictures on Scrivener corkboard -- amazing for storyboards but also great for quick character bios. And Scrivener keeps updating the program for free!

Thanks again. You give the best tips! I still learn from the Hero Dvds.


Laurel Blount said...

Hi, KC!
Oooh. I love Big Lots and dollar stores. I do pony up nowadays and buy the super sticky notes wherever I find them--I didn't the first time, and there was this constant shower of beautifully colored notes drifting from my storyboard. It was pretty...but annoying. So now I buy the super stickies, and they are obedient. Mostly.
You're owned by your horses, dogs and cats! That made me laugh--because it is so true. My animals certainly think they own me!
Me encanta practicar espanol tambien.
We're in middle GA. Are you in Tennessee?
LOL--I'm way more alert at 4 a.m. than I am at 9 p.m. I'm definitely an early bird.

ohiohomeschool said...

Hello--I am not a novel writer, but I do like to plan my writing.(emails, papers, blog posts etc). I do use post-it notes or mind map what I want to say.

Congratulations on your first novel.

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Well done, Laurel!

I'm a reader so I don't have a storyboard comment except that I enjoyed seeing yours and Tina's.

Please enter me to win a package of Super-Sticky Post-it Notes ® along with a copy of your October debut novel for Love Inspired, "A Family for the Farmer!"

May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Becky! I had to google mind mapping, and now I'm hooked. Interesting!! It looks similar to what I do at the very beginning of a story--sort of free-form brainstorming. I've never tried using an app, but my search turned some up that I might have to try! Fun!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Phyllis! So glad you chimed in! Putting your name in the egg basket for the drawing! Praying God's blessings on you as well!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Phyllis! So glad you chimed in! Putting your name in the egg basket for the drawing! Praying God's blessings on you as well!

Jackie Smith said...

Late to the party....sorry. Laurel, I live about 90 miles east of Atlanta. So welcome to Seekerville, Felllow Georgian!! I am an avid reader and will be looking for your book!

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Jackie! So great to hear from another Georgia girl! We're south of Atlanta, between Atlanta and Macon. I set my story in GA, so you should feel right at home!
I love Seekerville!!

CatMom said...

Hi Laurel! Well, I'm super late (had a manuscript I was determined I would send in by today - - and thankfully I made my goal! But...I'm behind on everything else, LOL - - like reading Seekerville posts). :)
Anyway, just wanted to say hello (I'm also a Georgia girl!) and I loved your post! I plan to start using a storyboard because I'm also not the "most organized" writer in the world, and I really think this would help. Thanks SO much for sharing with us!
Blessings, Patti Jo :)

p.s. It was great meeting you at ACFW last month! :)

Laurel Blount said...

Hi, Patti Jo!
Big congrats on sending in your manuscript!! But I know exactly what you mean--spent this morning corralling unenthusiastic kids into a little bit of much needed housecleaning, etc. With all the exciting events of this week, we're behind around here too!
Loved meeting you too! A fellow Georgian--and we meet in Nashville! Funny!