What is Storyboarding?

I don’t talk about what I’m doing very often here.  However, a careful reader can usually figure it out.  If I’m working on character development, I post about developing characters.  If I’m working on theme integration, I post about theme.  If I’m working brainstorming/outlining/plotting, I talk about that.


So, if you’ve been watching closely, you probably noticed that I’ve been doing a LOT of brainstorming the past few weeks.  A lot.  Truth be told, I’ve been working on the second half of an outline for my novel Beta Sun.  (What happened to the first half?  Long story.  I may have involved fairies, sunsets, and NaNo.  Literally.)  Anyway, thanks to the help of my many brainstorming partners and late night bunny sessions, I finally had ideas.  Lots of ideas.  And just to make things more fun, I had to get all my no ideas to match up with my old ideas… most of which were already written into the first 75,000 words.  I knew what I had to do.  I knew what one magic process would make all my problems go away.

I had no idea, however, how to approach it.

I’ve tried to story board before.  I tried it for at least three different novels that I can think of, but I could never make it work.  I had my little colorful cards, I had the board to cover them.  I even had multicolored pens to mark, whatever.  Then the freedom overwhelmed me, and I froze up.  There was so much I could do.  So many ways I could start.  The choices crippled me, and eventually I packed everything up and put it away.

This time though, I was desperate.  It, not Luke Skywalker, was my only hope.  And I made it work.  I forced things to happen.  The results were marvelous (pictures below) and I’m so excited to share the process with my woodlings so that we can all become happy storyboarders together.

SO, I’m announcing the Woodland Quill’s first ever miniseries.  (*squealsofexcitementandconfsuion*)  Basically, in this and any upcoming miniseries I’m going to spend three or more weeks exploring a specific topic more in depth than I’m able to in a single post.  Hopefully, they will allow me to introduce a concept at a fundamental level, and build it up into a practical tool for you to use in your everyday writing.  Right now, I’m working on a series for character voice and another for reader state of mind.  (What other topics would you like me to cover?  Comment below!  Please?)

But today, to get things started, I’m going to talk about storyboarding.  First off, what is it?  Then, how in the world does one do it?  Finally, what comes next?

What is Storyboarding?

Well, in words storyboarding is the act of organizing ideas and creating an outline on – get this – a storyboard.  It’s like a pre-outlining process where you can start to take your crazy ideas and plot bunnies and make some little amount of sense of them.  (Then, it can be taken straight through the outlining process.)  It’s also that thing that authors post pretty photos of online.

In pictures, it’s this:

Yes, I just joined the ‘post pictures of it’ club.  Oops.  But I’ll make it up to you; I’m going to explain how I made mine, and how you can make yours work for you.

(Also, I’m sort of proud of this thing, which I created over the weekend.  So please be impressed by all the colors.  Yes, they mean something.  Yes, I’m going to tell you what.  😀 )

First, some theory.  Storyboarding is actually a process that Disney created for its animators back in the day when Walt had them making fools of everyone else in the business.  (If you haven’t studied up on how Walt Disney told stories and pushed the limits of the day’s technology and expectations, please do.  He was amazing.)  Today, the practice has spread and adapted to the needs of all sorts of storytellers, novelists definitely included.  Traditionally (and for the film industry in particular) Walt’ storyboards were organized a very specific way with specific rules which he used to streamline the communication between scriptwriting and animating.  Today however, especially for novelists, the rules are much more loose, and the beauty of the whole process is its flexibility.

Flexibility, or freedom as I called it earlier, is completely necessary if you are going to take all of your unique ideas and bind them into one, but it can also be crippling as I said earlier.  So, as I go through this miniseries I intend to tell you how I created my storyboard, and how you can create yours.  But not necessarily how you should.  Creating your storyboard is something only you know how to do.  I’m just hoping to get you moving.

For a quick outline of what we’re going to cover.  Next week I’ll talk about materials and environment.  The week after I will explain my process, and break down one of my story boards for you all to see.  Then, I’ll talk some about alternative ideas for different kinds of stories.  Finally, I’ll tackle the big question: what next?  Because once you have a storyboard, there are all sorts of things that have to be put in place before you have an outline.  One of them… the dreaded timeline.

All that to come in the Woodland’s first miniseries!  I’m really excited about writing these and hope that you all get a lot out of them!  Let me know what you think, and please let me know what topics you want me to dive into next!  Also, I’m going to be pulling the blog down sometime in August (probably right after I finish this series) so that I can publish that redesign which I promised and have totally been working on.  So heads up, when the site disappears, it isn’t for forever.


Okay, I think that’s all.  Y’all have a great week!

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Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.


  1. Jacob H. February 17, 2018 at 12:17 PM - Reply

    I’d like to see the series on character voice, definitely! And then maybe one on editing, and one on growing/learning as a writer and author. Thanks for doing this storyboarding series too; I’m actually using these articles right now as I storyboard my novel and a short story (because yes, you can totally storyboard a short story too… *ninja face*)

    • Brandon February 17, 2018 at 9:05 PM Reply

      You and me both. I’m a little under the old college weather right noe, but will be back. When that happens, I’ll move voice to the top of the list.

      And yeah you can do that. Good luck on the short story!

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