Storyboard Teaser (Photo too!)

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Back to the drawing board”?

I’ve been standing in front of my storyboard for hours on end, trying to make sure I’ve tied up all my subplots/storylines and distributed them evenly throughout my WIP.

As a result, I’ve got no post today, so instead I’ll share a picture of said storyboard. (And my poster of one of my favorite shows, Castle.)

The notecards contain a brief summary and objective for each chapter. The sticky notes represent different subplots/storylines and I put them under each chapter. That way, I can see at a glance if I’m too heavy/light for certain storylines, and how they weave in and out of the entire manuscript.

I find it to be a thing of organizational beauty, but please note, I plowed through the first four drafts using the “pantster method before I created this monster 🙂

What about you? How do you track subplots and storylines throughout your writing?


25 thoughts on “Storyboard Teaser (Photo too!)

  1. That is one impressive story board. I love your colour work there, really stands out.
    I use Scrivener. Swear by it actually. I can’t keep track of a long WIP unless I have it organising for me.

    I still have a white board but Scrivener has cut down on the folders and I do mean folders or paperwork.

    Thanks for sharing your work of art. 🙂

    • Subtlekate,

      First off, thanks so much for finding, and following my blog!

      My background is in television writing, where they use lots of wall space plotting out everything. Couple that with the fact that I’m a visual person and the fact I kept getting so frustrated because I couldn’t remember which chapter had which subplot as the focus and “Wham” the storyboard was born.

      I thought, “Hey, why don’t I just lay it out on the wall?” So, I bought the foam core, edged it and secured hanging ribbons to the top with duct tape (because I’m a handy gal) and won an awesome storyboard creation kit in fellow blogger’s contest (Melissa Dean), and away I went.

      It took a LOT of prep work, but now I can see at a glance what I need to know.


  2. Wow! You beat me, hands down. Gosh, you’re organised. I’ve never made this much of an effort to plot a plot.

    I’m a visual person, so in my mind, I go through each chapter and weigh its value to the plot and see where the mini-plots help build the bigger plot. If I forget what took place in a chapter, I quickly glance through it. When I’m working (editing) a story, I remember everything about it. If I’m away from it for a while, then I need to reread.

    For one book, I remember laying out each chapter on the floor and making sure the events ran smoothly. That’s the closest I came to your system. But I can see where your system would be very useful.

    • Diane,

      I’m totally a visual person too, but also a forgetful one :). As in, I forget the subtle details of each subplot I’ve planted in each chapter. Problem solved with those multi-colored sticky notes! Each note has a subplot assigned to it, and if that particular storyline comes up in a chapter, I just throw up a note beneath the card. That way, I can look at the board and if I see three chapters in a row with only purple sticky notes, then I know I’ve got some rearranging to do.

      Again though, I must stress that this was only created after I’d been through the entire novel four separate drafts and decided I needed a way to see if things were smoothly laid out.

      I’m a “pantster” at heart 🙂

      Thanks for visiting,


  3. Awesome story board. I…um…I think I must be using the Panster method. LOL I keep track of plot/sub plot while I’m editing. I’ve never outlined or used a story board. Although, I have to say, I’ve been playing with Scrivener and a more organized approach lately.

    • Kathils,

      You’re the second person in these comments to mention Scrivner (see subtlekate’s above comment).

      What is it exactly? I’m thinking it’s a computer program, or a way of laying out your plot on paper?

      I’d love to hear more.

      Also, you’ll see from my above comments that I’m also a pantster 🙂


      • It is a program, Christi, and you can download a trial for 30 days, see if it suits. It’s a way of seeing at a glance what’s going on in your WIP, much like your story board only this way I can take it with me. It has a corkboard ( storyboard) with each chapter summary up on the board and you can move them around and then click to go to that chapter and make changes. I like it, but if your story board looks likes is working for you,

  4. Seriously, I’ve never done this. I don’t tend to be a very well organized person so that might be the reason. But I’m impressed by this photo and what you’ve done. If I ever surprise myself and become organized a cry of joy will be heard ringing throughout the land. 😉

    • Laura,

      I HIGHLY recommend this method of tracking your information. It doesn’t have to be as intricate in design as mine (yeah, I’m the person who jumps for joy at seeing a label maker in use) to work, you could just do a few cards, and a few stickies.

      I “pantsted” my way through several drafts before I realized subplots were slipping by me, unnoticed, and then never developed. I’d work hard to lay the groundwork on something, and then never follow it up. This way, I can see at a glance what I’ve got going on.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  5. Great storyboard, Christi! I recently created one too. Doesn’t it feel cleansing to get all of those tricky subplots and twists out of your head? I love how much easier it seems to make editing. I was like you and wrote my story more panster like. Can’t wait for my next story when I’m gonna START with a board!

    • Trish,

      I saw the Wordbitches post about you guys all working on your storyboards, and then LOVED seeing the end results via the pictures you all posted.

      In fact, your posting of the storyboards was the inspiration behind this post. I figured since I liked seeing your boards so much, maybe others might like to see mine 🙂

      In fact, if you send me the link to that post, I’ll add it in as an example of other storyboards.

      Thanks for commenting!


  6. Christi, that is a work of art!! I think it is amazing to create and follow a story in this way. As they share the corner, I can’t help but think that your inspiration for the board came from Castle and her method of tracking the events of a crime?

    As to the debate of plotter vs. panster … the only way I can get through the first draft is to fly off the seat … however I have also learned that it is most helpful to develop (got this idea from an on-line workshop) a “plot synopsis.” I’ll use that idea for a post in 2012. Great job. I’m glad you’re so close to the end of your WIP 🙂

    • Florence,

      There’s a certain NEW story rumbling around in my head that I am just itching to get a storyboard going for 🙂

      *wink wink*

      Ahhhh, and you noticed the Castle/crime board connection too! It’s true, they do focus on “the board” a lot in that show. I love how big their board is, and that it’s magnetic so they can attach pictures and evidence to it. In a perfect world, I’d have one just like it so I could put up scenery pictures, character analysis’, and small trinkets that go along with each chapter.

      But at least I’ve carved out my own little space in the corner by the computer. I can see my board from my chair, which is perfect for quick glances.

      Also, this picture was taken months ago, so there’s a LOT more sticky-note colors going on now.


  7. I do the same thing after my initial first draft. It lets me see so much, and saves on so much time and rework. I use index cards sometimes, and at other times I use a large roll of art paper and lay it accross the floor and connect all my scenes in this way. Once I have it figured out and connected the dots and holes, I tape it up on the wall, and follow the story that way. It may seem tedious, but it sooo pays off 🙂

    • Jennifer,

      I TOTALLY agree that it saves time and pays off in the long run!

      Have you seen the cardboard displays that fold in on themselves? (Think an 8th grade science project display) They are a super space saver and can be stowed behind a dresser, in the corner, etc…

      Thanks for visiting,


  8. I LOVE it! I want to see it up close!! I storyboarded my story for the first time ever about a month ago. It really, REALLY helped with the holes I was struggling with.
    I’m so excited to get this draft done so I can storyboard my next story, before I start writing it. What a concept!

    • Elena,

      I wrote in response to Trish’s comment earlier that you Wordbitches were the inspiration for this post. When I saw your pictures of your storyboards I figured I’d share too.

      On my wall, to the left of my storyboard is a huge map of the 1840’s Oregon Trail. I have sticky notes all over that too. They help me track major events in my story, so I can see at a glance the milage between events, and where they took place.

      My board itself is made from two pieces of foam core, duct-taped together. That way, it’s two-sided so I can expand my cards and chapters when needed.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  9. That is SO beautiful! I actually just carved out an area of my bedroom so I could have dedicated writing space and I really want to do this with my book! I’m definitely a pantster at the start, and then a post-it note and colored marker addict at the end. Nothing is cooler than the whole book up on the wall!

    • Wendy,

      How funny is it that I use my bedroom to write in too? I have a cabinet that holds the computer, a bookshelf, and a large portion of the wall to hang maps, and this board.

      I totally agree with you about seeing the whole book up on the wall.


  10. I like the different colors. I hadn’t thought of that, even though I guess it is a pretty simple concept! I sometimes refuse to make a story board out of laziness, but I am learning how much harder it is to make the story complete without one!

  11. Marianne,

    I admit, I am in LOVE with office supply stores, with an utter devotion to sticky-notes. On a related note, did you see there are highlighter pens with small, same color sticky notes attached to the pen? LOVE!

    Now I’m off to snoop around your blog 🙂


  12. Aw! I was going to ask if you’d read SAVE THE CAT, because your board totally reminded me of his example in there … but reading in the comments here, I see you won the kit from Melissa Dean … and that’s where I got the book from! Her wonderful blog. YAY! I plan to use this strategy for my next ms.

  13. Margo,

    Yep, I’ve got my copy of Save the Cat from Melissa right by my side when I go through the different segments of my board.

    The reason why this post is labeled with the word “teaser” is because I just planned on putting up the picture, and then discussing the mechanics of making the board, how to do it, what Melissa sent in the creation kit, etc…. on another day, but this post has generated such interest I’ve ending up giving out most the info in the comments 🙂

    I’m thinking I’ll do a more descriptive post sometime in January.

    Thanks for visiting,

    Christi Corbett

  14. Melissa,

    My ears perked up at the word CONTEST :).

    I love me a good contest, and I’m thinking we should join forces and put together some kind of contest where the winner gets a storyboard kit?


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