Creating the Flow

Recently tweeted: As I’m working on this storyboard, I’m going back and making sure each character’s line is its own story. Is that weird?

I decided at the beginning of the year that I needed to bring all of my old projects to some sort of closure so I can move on to new ideas. Of course, standing in my way are all of my NaNovels. My first one was neatly filed away into an archive folder. My second one is in the process of being rewritten.

Originally called Jath, this has always been my favorite of my NaNovels. I love movies, cartoons, and books with an archaeology component, and I wanted to write something to parody the treasure hunt. I spent two months developing the characters and carefully outlining the story so I’d be ready to go when November 1 hit. I didn’t complete the manuscript until four years later, and started editing it in January.

And that’s when I discovered that all of my hard work was not reflected in the story. The artifact disappeared from the storyline for most of the manuscript. Characters weren’t even close to their intended personality. The bad guys didn’t really exist in the story, either. I tried to fix it on my own for a couple of months, but only succeeded in frustrating myself.

Then, someone reminded me about Writer’s Cafe, and I remembered there was a storyboard tool that I thought might help me see exactly where the holes were so I could fix them.

Putting Jath into a storyboard proved to be very helpful in working out the major issues with the plot. But as I went, because I was so concerned about how many characters I’d screwed up, I found myself reading through a character’s line, just to be sure that character had a coherent story that slotted into the bigger picture. The new outline is a far more coherent, thought-out story than the original was, and for the first time in a long while I can say I like a writing project.

Outlining can be a helpful tool, but for a visual organizer, a storyboard allows you to look at the bigger picture, and smaller parts within that picture quickly and easily. It can help address problems with the flow of the story and the character development before you ever put a word on paper.

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