One Writer’s Journey

June 6, 2019

Story Board: Use This Tool to Write Your Next Picture Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:42 am
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Yesterday my critique group ended up discussing story boards. A story board is an illustrators’ tool that allows you to plan out a picture book spread by spread.  Because you see all of the spreads at once, it is a great big picture tool.

How do you use it if you aren’t an illustrator?  Some writers make quick sketches.  I jot down a few words or a sentence on a Post-it note.

I like to use a story board to see if I have enough “story” for an entire picture book.   If I can’t come up with 14 2-page spreads, my idea may not work in picture book format.

If you want to print out  a story board worksheet, you can download one here.  I find this single page a little too tight.  I also hate writing on the page and then erasing things as I shift bits and pieces of the story.

Another way to do it is to use the template directly on your computer.  Since you can only fit about 6 spreads on most screens, this keeps me from seeing the whole thing at once.  Yeah, I know.  I’m picky.

So what I did was make my own story board (see above).  It came into the house as the piece of cardboard in a poster frame.  I enlarged the story board template and marked off the pages I need to keep open.   I write a few words on a Post-it note to represent each spread.  Once I begin placing them on the story board, I can easily rearrange and shift various parts of the story.

Once I have everything worked out on the board, I rough out the story. Because I’ve worked out many of the bugs on the story board, I can usually draft a picture book in an hour or two.  Do not fuss at me!  That’s a rough draft.  The language isn’t picture book language.  The characters still need work and everything else. That’s just a super messy rough draft. But it comes together as quick as it does because I’ve already taken a hard look at the big picture.

Try it out when you write your next picture book and see if it helps.

–SueBE

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