A Storyboard

A storyboard is a little map you make to plan your book. This weekend, I talked about storyboards to a roomful of writers.

Artists use storyboards to figure out which chunk of story is going to go on which spread, to check that compositions are varied and that pictures look good together in sequence, and to make sure that the story arc and pacing work well in the fixed format of a picture book.

Picture book writers should storyboard their manuscripts, too. When you're writing a picture book, you need to think visually - after all, your book is half pictures. So for picture books, you write the things that the words say best and you leave space for the illustrator to draw the things that pictures say best. Why write that the sky was blue and the grass was green when the illustrator can simply show it?

Writers, you don't need to draw the storyboard if that's not your medium. But try inserting page breaks in your manuscript to make sure it's the right length, and that you have fifteen story chunks that can take a reader from page 4 - 32 of a book. You might make a few illustration notes just to test that your text has the visual capacity for a new, different illustration on each spread.

When you pitch that manuscript, take out the page breaks and any illustration notes. A good editor can tell if you've done your homework.

I have plenty more to say about storyboards. If you want to know more, say so in the comments and I'll do another post. I promised the talented folks in the room that I'd post the storyboard templates, so here they are:

To download the storyboard map, click here.

To download the storyboard page breaks (text only), click here.