On Wednesday I outlined the Blake Snyder beat to plotting your novel. Today we’ll talk a little about your storyboard.

Now before you go running to hide under your bed (Elana, take your fingers out of your ears!) let me show you how easy this can be.

You’ve written up your couple one-or-two-liners on the beat sheet, right? Wasn’t so bad, right? Right.

Now you get yourself a corkboard, a wall, or whatever. I used a corkboard. (Office supplies, what can I say? I ♥ them.) Take a stack of index cards. Don’t freak out over the size of your cards. Just use whatever. You can use colored pens if you want (I did, just to help me quickly identify if the scene takes place here, there or where.)

Now, using a couple strips of masking tape, divide your corkboard (or whatever) into four even sections (two strips of tape.) This denotes Act I, Act II part one, Act II part two, Act III.

It should look like this:

ACT II part one
ACT II part two

Now, get out your beat sheet (that we did on Wednesday,) and your index cards.

On your first card, jot down your notes for the Opening Image. Tack it/tape it/whatever right at the beginning of your Act I line.

Your next card is #6 on the Beat Sheet; the Break into Two card. Place it at the very end of the Act I line.

Next, #7, B Story, at the beginning of the Act II, part one line, followed by #9, Midpoint, at the end of that line.

#10, Bad Guys Close In, goes at the beginning of the second Act II line, followed by #13, Break Into Three.

Your last line starts with #14, Finale, and finishes with #15, Closing Image.

Now, fill out your cards for the remaining beats and tack them to your board where they belong. You’ve probably got some scenes in your head, jot them down on a card and figure out where it belongs. Your beat sheet should give you a pretty clear idea where it goes on the storyboard. Go ahead and stick it up there.

Action scenes, or beats that involve multiple scenes to play out, get stuck to the board in cascading groups. You can see what I mean in the photo of my board:

It’s easy to see where the holes are, but I’m not worried. In fact, I’m kind of happy about it. This outline keeps me in line by pinning down the beginning, middle and end, but allows me the freedom to work out all that fun middle stuff.

This is the board I’ll be working from during NaNo. If I get an idea for a scene I can write and/or add it to a card and stick it where it belongs (I’ll probably do both.) That way, I’ll know exactly where to add that scene once I catch up to it. And when I’m sitting there, all out of Mike ‘n Ikes, my mouth hanging open as my gears try to get the writing going, I can look at the board and know what I’m supposed to work on next.

Of course, it’s all just theory at this point, but I’m gonna give it a shot!

Are you going to try to write by the Blake Snyder beat this NaNo? Or do you have your own plan? OR, are you one of those brave souls who’s going to wing it? Do tell! Also, drop me your username if you’re NaNoing so I can keep tabs on you!

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18 comments on “Preparing for NaNo the STC Way Part 2 of 2”

  1. I am on the floor, shaking right now. I’m not even lying. Just the THOUGHT of doing that board makes me quiver inside.

    I’m so glad it works for you, and some of the stuff you’re saying makes sense to me. I really need to get my hands on Save the Cat. Today. I will today.

  2. You planning people are crazy!
    I’ll be wishing I was you at about 30,000 words when scenes need to be re-arranged but wow. Pretty awesome though.
    Oh – and yes – I wing it. I write scenes near the beginning, a few in the middle, a few in the end and then I start thinking about all the things that need to happen to get me to those places. It’s just how I roll…

  3. I never thought I’d need a corkboard until now. That looks very cool!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m that organized, and right now I think it’s too late to go this route with my NaNo. I might still try the beat sheet though.

    Mostly, I’m winging it. It’s what I usually do, but I’m trying to come up with some semblance of a basic outline before I start.

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