When a group of filmmakers come together to map out a new project before they go into production, they go through a process called “story boarding.” They set out, shot-by-shot, all the action, as well as the camera angles they want to capture while telling the story. When completed, the actual story boards look like roughly drawn comic strips with written descriptions. Depending on the length and scope of the project, the story boards can literally fill walls.
These visual representations of the shots to be taken allow creators to better plan for their execution.
As an author, you can benefit from the story boarding process, especially at the point when you are organizing your ideas into a workable story line, following a brainstorming session. The idea of mapping out your ideas probably is not new to you. You must be familiar with the process, which is required every time you tell a new story.
Unlike outlining, which has a similar flow, story boarding is a visual tool. Story boards allow you to see your story line from beginning to end, physically in front of you. This format allows for easy editing. The story board format allows the best possible envisioning of a tale. So when it comes time to paint those mental pictures, the details come vividly.
Before you begin to story board, you’ll want to have at least some of the story’s elements figured out, so that you have some sort of framework to build around. A basic beginning, middle, and end are sufficient, along with any of the other scene ideas you’ve come up with.
You can start by filling out a separate page or index card for each element. Keep in mind that you may eventually replace the original boards, if later you break your original ideas into more detailed parts. Post your story boards on a white board or directly on the wall. Leave enough space in between each pair to allow space for later fill-ins.
Now simply continue adding and adjusting these boards until you’re satisfied enough to move forward. Story boarding, while basic, is nevertheless a very powerful tool to add to your creative arsenal.
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