The Storyboard Renaissance: Whole Manuscript Showcase—Preparing Your Storyboard, Part 4, by Kristen C. Strocchia

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Hopefully, storyboarding along with this blog series has led to some helpful revising. I know it has for me. However, in the process, my original one-sticky-note-per-plot-beat has multiplied with extended information and/or notes to myself. And the setting backdrop picture for each scene plus a photo of all the characters in each takes a lot of space, which is visually overwhelming. So, here is where we revise the working Storyboard into more of a visual synopsis for the Storyboard Renaissance event display.

When deciding what to keep and what to cut, remember that less is more.

It might be helpful to use the Storyboard to help write your one-page synopsis, which will be critiqued at the event, and then to use the synopsis, in turn, to help streamline your Storyboard. (For help writing a synopsis, visit https://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/.)

A thumbnail sketch or digital mock-up can also be very helpful to create an overall visually appealing display.

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Digital mock-up

If you are unfamiliar with visual composition rules—that is, the basic visual layouts that are most pleasing to the eye—you may want to check out a photography site like https://photolemur.com/blog/35-composition-tips-for-taking-stunning-landscape-photos for some helpful pointers. Note that you only need to focus on one or two of the rules to make a more impactful presentation, so choose which ones work best for the story you want to tell.

When you have decided on how you want the overall layout to appear, remember that you have options as to how to incorporate your visuals. Besides taping/pasting each element, try drawing directly onto the board. Try laying out the story scenes vertically and horizontally to see which looks better on the space. Do leave negative space, or white space, and take advantage of the natural lead lines created by the plot diagram and the rule of thirds naturally formatted in the three-act board structure.

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Some elements can be drawn directly onto the board.

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You can create digital story beats and print them out.

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Try different layouts. This layout uses story beats showing character, plot, and setting in skinny vertical strips.

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This layout shows small story beats of plot and character overlaying photos of setting.

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Close-up details.

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Another option is to show fewer story beats with larger images on a larger setting (remember, less is more).

As to the individual story scenes themselves, less is also more here. Your faculty member will already have read your written synopsis, so the Storyboard should portray things like pacing, character development, emotion, and repetition of important elements within the story without additional words. However, too many characters or important elements will quickly overwhelm the viewer, so choose the main character, and perhaps the most important secondary character, and track only the few objects that are absolutely essential to the overall story. Feel free to include a brief visual character profile with a logline to help set up the character and story stakes as well. (For logline writing help, see https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/script-logline/.)

Remember, use this to serve your revision process. After writing the synopsis and drafting your Storyboard, continue to ask yourself questions that lead you to a stronger story. Be inspired and have fun with it! And don’t forget to register for the Storyboard Renaissance event in September for the opportunity to showcase your Storyboard and receive feedback from peers and one of our amazing faculty members. Hope to see you there!


Registration is now open for the Storyboard Renaissance event. Click here for all the information and to register.

Don’t miss the previous posts in this series for step-by-step help with your Storyboard. Even if you can’t make the event, Storyboarding can be a helpful tool for visualizing your manuscript as a whole.

 

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#Vacation: “Redwood Giant!,” a Poem by Lily Erlic

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Redwood Giant!

By Lily Erlic

Redwood Giant!
Your trunk is like a red-necked dinosaur,
Stretch, stretch to touch the sky,
What does your canopy say?

Whispers to the clouds, no doubt,
Secrets in the sky,
Your droplets fall to my face,
Like liquid diamonds.

Redwood Giant,
Speak to me . . .
I can hear you say,
“Come see, come smell and come feel,” said the Redwood.

The fire that roamed blackened your bark,
Black as the night fill your hollow space,
Your strength overcomes the hardship,
You are stronger and taller now.

Redwood Giant,
I hear your voice,
Your majestic branches hold the secret,
Of your strength.
I walk among you like a trampled, saddened fool,
I cannot reach your height,

My forlornness is not without solace upon your mask,
Help me to reveal your secrets so that I may be worthy,
So that I may become like you.
I need your strength to seep into me,
Like a cool drink in the hot sun.

Redwood Giant,
Hear me speak,
Listen to my plea,
Give me a speck of your sap,

So that I may survive this cruel world,
Help me to overcome my boundaries,
And the hurt laid upon me by others.
Tell me I am safe.

Redwood Giant,
Give me your branches to hold,
For I weep inside, I am alone.

Wrap me with your warmth and strength.
Teach me to be bold.
Redwood Giant,
Teach me to overcome the obstacles,
Help me become who I am,
Show me the way to the light,

Give me hope so I can fly,
Like the Eagle circling above,
Help me to soar . . .

Redwood Giant,
Speak to me . . .
I can hear you say,
“Come see, come smell and come feel,” said the Redwood.

I have seen. I have smelled. I have felt.
Your strength has seeped through me
I know now. I can move on.
I can embrace your bark.

I am free.

Redwood Giant!
Your trunk is like a red-necked dinosaur,
Stretch, stretch to touch the sky,
Your voice is clear to me now.
I can hear what you are saying.

© 2016

 


Lily Erlic is a children’s author and early childhood educator. She is a traveller too. When she visited the Redwoods, she was overwhelmed by their majestic beauty. You can find out more on her website at www.lilyerlic.com.

 


notepad-117597__480SUMMER STARTERS: Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas? Is the weather hot, but your mind cool? If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks. Ready! Set! Go!

  • David arrives in the United States from Kenya. He is an excellent long-distance runner and soon joins the high school cross-country team.
  • “Boy, is Mom going to be angry when you get home.”
  • A Giant Sequoia tree does not begin to flower until it is at least 175 to 200 years old.

 

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#Vacation: Frogs Only, by Tara Santoro

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Frogs Only

By Tara M. Santoro


Tara Santoro grew up in a small New Jersey town known for being the home to the historic Gingerbread Castle. Her artistic skills developed from her childhood pastime of coloring in oversized coloring books to now creating whimsical images for everyone to enjoy. Tara’s preferred creative tools are colored pencils, watercolor, pen and ink. Her career goals include one day creating art for picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. When not in her studio she teaches art to children and adults in her Eastern PA community. Tara is a member of SCBWI, CPSA, and the treasurer of the Emmaus Arts Commission. You can visit her website at www.imaginationcreationsbytms.com and follow her on Instagram (@TMSketches).

 


notepad-117597__480SUMMER STARTERS: Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas? Is the weather hot, but your mind cool? If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks. Ready! Set! Go!

  • Rizolli was an old man who lived in the upstairs apartment. One day Lizzy bumps into him on the stairway and says something she soon regrets.
  • A boy sells raffle tickets in his neighborhood. Then, he knocks on Mr. Crenshaw’s door.
  • A gay couple adopts a young girl from Korea.
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#Vacation: Beach Life, by Rebecca Thornburgh

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Beach Life

By Rebecca Thornburgh

 


Rebecca Thornburgh has illustrated somewhere around 135 children’s books, two nine-foot fiberglass polar bears, and a buncha murals. In July of 2019, Rebecca will graduate from Hamline University with an MFA in creative writing for children and young adults, where she wrote and illustrated a middle-grade graphic novel memoir. Rebecca also sings with Mendelssohn Chorus, a 140-singer classical ensemble, and the Philadelphia Women’s Music Project. She lives with her husband David and a goofy dog Nemo in a pleasantly spooky Victorian house in Philadelphia. You can visit her website at www.rebeccathornburgh.com and connect with her on Twitter (@disbecca), Instagram (disbecca), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaThornburghIllustrator/).

 


notepad-117597__480SUMMER STARTERS: Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas? Is the weather hot, but your mind cool? If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks. Ready! Set! Go!

  • A gryphon and a chimera are added to the town zoo. They soon become the most popular attractions.
  • Isaac and Sissy are left alone in their log cabin in the middle of the woods. A very curious bear decides to visit.
  • Herbert, his family, and other Japanese-Americans are transferred to an internment camp during WWII.
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#Vacation: Fries Surprise, by Berrie Torgan-Randall

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Fries Surprise

by Berrie Torgan-Randall

 


Berrie Torgan-Randall has been passionate about children’s literature since she was a little girl and has fed her desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. Berrie has recently begun to send out her dummy book, “Queen Tess and the Big Mess.” Her website is www.berrietr.com.

 


notepad-117597__480SUMMER STARTERS: Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas? Is the weather hot, but your mind cool? If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks. Ready! Set! Go!

  • Peggy was having a perfectly miserable day—the most rotten day in her life. Then, she met Mrs. Smithton—an old lady with a really cool idea.
  • The poison dart frog has skin so dangerous that native hunters use the poison to coat their hunting arrows.
  • What if you had the power to fly? Where would you travel?
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#Vacation: “Keyboard Vacation Haiku,” by Wendy Greenley

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Keyboard Vacation Haiku

By Wendy Greenley

Bon voyage.
Lizards dart between my sandy toes
while frogs sing love songs.

Inhale salt spray as
imagination wanders.
Write yourself there, too.

 


A mother of two, Wendy Greenley has also been an ice cream scooper, night security guard, microbiologist, and attorney. Her debut picture book, Lola Shapes the Sky, released in March 2019. You can visit her website at www.wendygreenley.com and connect with Wendy on Facebook and Twitter: @wendygreenley.

 


notepad-117597__480SUMMER STARTERS:  Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas?  Is the weather hot, but your mind cool?  If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks.  Ready!  Set!  Go!

  • Corey gets a letter from his brother in Japan.  For twelve years Corey was certain he was an only child.
  • Cameroon is a country on the west coast of Africa.  There are many stories and many tales about the people who live in this ancient country.
  • Angus is a goat who spends every night staring at the moon.  He is certain there is a “goat in the moon.”
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The Storyboard Renaissance: Whole Manuscript Showcase—Preparing Your Storyboard, Part 3, by Kristen C. Strocchia

cat display

No storyboard would be complete without attention to when and where the story takes place. Setting is often the silent culprit behind inconsistencies, flawed logic, and even character development troubles. It can heighten emotion or cause it to fall flat. It can increase tension as much as any secondary character and sometimes more. So, as you work through this setting pass, pay attention to character as well.

As with character, you may want to begin by compiling a picture file or a collage. Scale the setting images to fit your space and then print several copies to lay on the Storyboard as needed. If your manuscript has just a few locations, or if large portions of the plot happen in one particular place, then you may have room to print a larger setting photo and overlay the plot and character elements. If your setting includes unique vehicles or moves across several locations, use smaller printouts. It may also be helpful to include the emotion created by the setting choices (if any) with an emoticon.

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Remember, use this to serve your revision process. After adding setting to the plot beats and character development overlay, ask yourself some questions:

  1. Does the scene work with the time of day (i.e., lighting, surrounding human/animal activity, etc), weather, and terrain?
  2. Are there any neglected setting elements that make this scene unbelievable/impossible?
  3. Does the setting add mood or tension to the scene?
  4. Does this mood or tension conflict with what is happening with the plot or the character emotion in each scene?
  5. Do the timeline and weather happenings flow naturally throughout, or do they feel choppy? Contrived?
  6. Is this the best possible time and place for this story?
  7. In each scene, how should the setting affect my character?
  8. Is the character reaction in each scene appropriate to the date, time, weather, terrain, etc?

If the Storyboard process prompts revisions, go for it! Then, rearrange or rework the setting backdrop, character development overlay, and plot outline as needed.

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Be inspired and have fun thinking about how you will visually integrate each of these elements into your completed Storyboard. We will discuss the final draft in the next Storyboard post.


Registration will soon be open for the Storyboard Renaissance event. Click here for details.

Don’t miss the previous posts in this series for step-by-step help with your Storyboard. Even if you can’t make the event, Storyboarding can be a helpful tool for visualizing your manuscript as a whole.

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