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It’s a technique used by many different types of writers, particularly screenwriters. Some murder mystery writers for example, use storyboarding to lay out their plot with all its twists and turns before they start writing.
In order to use storyboarding effectively, you should have a look at beginning/middle/end first. It will help you understand the fundamental structure of most stories.
To build your storyboard you will need:
Cut out square cards from the cardboard about the same size as an envelope.
It’s now time to write a synopsis. This is a short description of what happens in your story. You should include the main events, the twists and turns in your story. Try to write the whole story in summary in a couple of paragraphs.
Next, write each main event or ‘moment’ from your story synopsis on a seperate card. The card on the right is an example of one of these important moments in a story.
When you’ve finished putting all the moments from your story onto cards, start sticking the cards in order on the whiteboard.
If you are writing a movie script (also known as a screenplay) or a play for the stage, then you will need to include other information relevant to the setting.
For example, where crucial objects to the scene are placed like a chair, a gun, a bath. If you are writing a movie script, you may also mention whether your scene involves directions for the camera man such as a ‘close-up’ (CU), or a ‘long shot’ (LS).
Remember that some direction is simply to establish the mood. Is it hot? Cold? Raining? Night or Day?
You may also decide to include some drawings to further explain a scene. Stick figures would be sufficient but you could use photos or clipart if you wish.
LS – Establishing or Long Shot – Usually used to establish the atmosphere at the beginning of a scene.
MS – Mid Shot – A shot that often includes a whole person, head to toe.
CU – Close-up – Usually a shot from the waist to the head.
BCU – Big Close Up – very close shot!
HCA – High Camera Angle – A shot from high up taking in the whole scene.
LCA – Low Camera Angle – A shot lower than eye level looking up.
You may find you have more than one storyline occurring. For example, you may find that as well as the main story about a runaway boy, there is also the story about his parents relationship in trouble.
You might even find you have two or three stories inside your main story idea … and that’s ok … that’s why you’re making a storyboard. It will help you work out what happens when.
Now … stand back and look at your story board … what you should see is your whole story laid out in pieces from beginninng to end.
Is there anything you can take out? Are there any moments missing? Should you include more details in some parts of the story? Is each storyline complete? Does your story have a beginning, middle and end?
Storyboards are used by story writers and film makers in lots of different ways. You may make up your own way of laying out your story, and that’s ok, the main thing to consider is, when you’ve finished your storyboard … you will have a ‘map’ to follow when you’re writing.