Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Storyboarding While Writing

Okay, having been on my usual daily Blog-hop-between-scenes-of-book-procrastination-tour and following on from the great chat we had about the Craft books last time, I've had a wee bit of a think... and d'ya know there are LOADS of similarities I knew about between film and book-writing that I hadn't realized we authors use in varying forms...

And that backs up my theories so therefore I'm gonna talk about them to make me feel clever - okay???

Take Storyboarding for example...

As part of the film -making process we all know that there will be a storyboard - right? This is where, quite often via little sketches, each scene or sometimes even each frame of the movie is laid out in the order it'll be filmed in... you know you've all seen them in DVD extras, go on, admit it!

Well... even though I'm a *panster* I do to a very small extent use this method, albeit I skip lots of scenes and have a clear mental image of only key scenes and then I let the characters lead me to each in-between scene on a kind of action/reaction basis - and that came out in fluent swahili didn't it?

Okay - for example - right now I'm in hitting the turnaround section of Getting Even (you'll know what I mean by this if you've been following the Book With Trish series on my Writer's Tips page) and I've just done a restaurant scene that I had very clearly planned and rehearsed in my head. Up until I got three quarters of the way through it I had no idea what was coming next (this is where the panster in me kicks in). I like to work that way, and I doubt I'll ever change - because for me part of the creativity is flexibility - the ability to take that unexpected turn when my characters lead me to it - and this is part of the reason why these days nearly all my proposals for my lovely editor end with the words *or something along those lines*. And realistically it's also because the one and only time I tried to plan a whole book from start to finish prior to writing it I never finished it - cos I was bored cos I knew what was coming next and that proved to be a big fat yawn-fest for me... Let's just call that a Trish-ism shall we?

But for some, a more organized game plan works much better and one of those people is the lovely Fiona Harper, winner of the RNA New Writer's award last year and up for not one but TWO RITA's this year for her DEBUT BOOK Blind-Date Marriage!!! So a more planned approach OBVIOUSLY works for Fiona!

I've stolen a pic from Fiona's Blog where she has been talking about how she uses cards on a pin board to help plot out her books. Now although I don't use this method, it makes perfect sense to me and the way she explains it is very clear and concise (I'm also seriously into my colour coding when I'm organized in other things in my life so she *got me* there) Now look at this pic and then look at the sample pic I got of a story board template for a film or TV Ad... look similar? Look like Fiona's cards could fit into those boxes with her colour cards underneath? Yuh-huh - I thought so too...

Then let's look at another friend of mine Ally Blake who, like me, has become a convert of collaging a-la-the -very-lovely Barbara Hannay (who did a talk on the subject at one of RWAus conferences a few years ago I'm told) - And again I've sneakily stolen another pic from Ally's Blog to show you how she did it for her last Romance book...

Now whereas Ally and Barbara and several others use another pin board or even the Blue Peter method with scissors and glue and pics from magazines - I don't have an actual office space - so my entire life is on my laptop. So what I've taken to doing is making my collage for each book as a Word Doc with all the pictures I find online... many of them the kinds of pics you'll see me use here on the Blog when I'm chatting to you lot as I write and then making it to the Behind The Scenes section of each of my Book Excerpt Pages on the Website....

IF I had the space I have to say I would also add those pictures to my Story Board (if I had one). In each of those little boxes or pinned in order to my pin board I'd have a couple of pics that show me how my hero and heroine might look, what they might be wearing - the kinds of pics I already use in my Word Doc collage to suggest a scene to me - and then I could make my notes in underneath or pin my cards beside them, couldn't I???

Let's take the excerpt I've put on my Website for His Mistress: His Terms - it would have pictures like the ones I have here (and genuinely from my collages on my Word Doc for this book as it so happens) as my visual inspiration - the bridge Merrow runs over - the kind of dress I had as basis for what she's wearing - the coffee she has run over the bridge to get - the scarf blowing in the air would represent the scarf she tied in her hair on a whim which reminds Alex of when he first met her - and of course the pic of Alex I used on here so much (and swore I wouldn't post again but stuff it) that shows me exactly what he's wearing in that scene... TOLD YOU I'm a visual kind of girl... And if you read the excerpt you can see how all those visual images make it into the scene in the end and you can tell me whether or not you can *see it* from all these pics...

Now correct me if I'm wrong - but that's storyboarding, isn't it? A -la - film making again - and tying neatly into my Backwards Casting theory again. AH-HA! I really am sold on this you know - don't think even I'd realized how much until this year.... and it still has enough flexibility in it for my creativity to take flight... With those pics for my key scene I can put it together like a movie in my head and then I can concentrate on what they say to each other, what their inner thoughts are, that action and reaction that will lead me automatically into my next scene, whether I've thought about that scene yet or not... And that particular excerpt from Alex and Merrow's story worked for me so well that it became a focal scene for later on in the book when something that the reader doesn't see happen is revealed in the ending... I'm also one for echoes - but that's a whole nother Blog... And the only thing I added that a storyboard mightn't - was my music *soundtrack*

So, if any of my other author buddies have a variation on this that works for them or have a method they use that sounds similar to storyboarding - POP IN AND LET US KNOW - Cos I have to say that this chat on the Blog here of late has really got my mind working and I'M LOVING THAT!!!

5 comments:

Cole said...

You know it was just recently that I both accepted and embraced my way of writing... and it was a wow moment to read the beginning of your post today and see you do it the way I am!!??!! :) Cool. I really felt I had to be one or the other--panster or plotter. But I do both and adjust as I go. Its taken me a while though to see this as ME... and like I said, embrace it. Ever since I have though, things are going exceedingly better! I've started writing things out... like a story board! Kind of know the main points... then write! Then stop, re-evaulated... look at my board(though its not really a board but a bunch of notes on paper *grin* ) and then rearrange either the board or the writing.

Great post!
Cole

Trish said...

Yep hun - all about what works for you... now where might I have heard that one before??? ;)

And you're still more organized than me if you have *notes* - these days its all done in my head barring the collaging...well, and the actual writing - a book in my head might be a tough sell for my editor!

Nindespin said...

Awesome post Trish! Thanks :) and thanks for the pics from fellow auther's sites. Fab stuff! Love that pin board.

You've mentioned Michael Hauge and his great book "Screenplay Mastery." I found a link for those who want to take a peek at his screenplay structure theory. http://www.screenplaymastery.com/structure.htm

I'd love to say I'm a panster, but being the kooky capricorn that I am, I think I'm more of a plotter. Therefore, the idea of taking an excellent romance novel, (like "Rescued: Mother-To-Be" Naturally!)and seeing how it "fits" into Hauge's screenplay structure is VERY thrilling to me. Being a newbie, I also find it a little hard.

Some people say "why bother?" Cos I just can feel there is something there between screenplay and novel writing. And I think it's a great learning exercise for plotting. Someday, I hope to get to that Panster-Plotter point!

Donna Alward said...

Cole...me too. I know my characters and a basic roadmap, but I really let them lead me through the book now. It's something I too embraced and it works so much better for me. There was something too restrictive about plotting everything out...it certainly didn't leave me enough room to be truly creative and discover. I think the secret is to lay a good foundation and then have fun building the rest.

Trish said...

Uh-oh Nindespin. Really??? You're going to study one of mine as an example??? You might wanna let me know where it veered then... really...

And thanks for that link!!! I shall peruse it later this evening when I've tried to sort out the corner Gabe has backed me into YET AGAIN...

Yeah Donna if you're like me then you might find that if every single bit is pre-planned we're more likely to get *stuck* - you know, we're determined to have the scenes just the way we planned and then we we get to a certain point it just feels *off*??? And then we end up going back through it all again and again to see what it is that doesn't feel right...?!

I think when people get that feeling is the very time to play the flexibility card. I know once I knew what worked best for me the most courageous thing I learnt to do was use the DELETE key. Painful, but necessary and a book can change almost overnight if I have the ability to think vertically as well as horizontally - if that makes sense?

Flexibility.

Nice to know I can at least use that word *somewhere* in my daily life... cos it's certainly not used when it refers to my creaking bones anymore!!!