The Story Board

Cork, a common bulletin board material
Image via Wikipedia

The story board is an indispensable tool.  There are software programs that mimic the idea but there’s nothing like the real thing, baby. The board is tactile, visual, and easy to manipulate.  Plus, it gets me away from the computer.

Essentially it consists of a large bulletin board, 3×5 cards, push pins and your mind.  My board is made up of twelve 1 foot square cork pieces assembled together in three rows to form a 4’x3’ board.  From the beginning I post a story outline at the top corner.  I write a brief sketch of each scene on a 3×5 card and post them up in order.  I use three rows: one each for the beginning, the middle and the end.

The beauty of the board is that you can rearrange the scenes, add another conflict scene in the middle, remove scenes that detract from the story line, and so on.

The bigger the board, the better.  A larger size gives you space make additions.  Depending on your story you may want to add a genealogical chart, a map, a floor plan of a building or a timeline.

At any given moment you have a visual overview of your story.  Inconsistencies show up in the overview that get hidden as you work scene by scene.

Some writers use long sheets of butcher paper to outline the story.  If you, like me, have a tendency to change the order of scenes, delete scenes, and make changes to the story, the flexibility of the 3×5 cards makes changes simple and easy.  For me, the large sheet would have many arrows and cross outs.  It would become unreadable.

Simple, inexpensive, flexible.  The story board is a writer’s tool without equal.

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