In chaos, there is calculation.anonymous
A story in your head may seem clear, but you will soon discover that the idea you have, is not ready for its picture book debut. There are some basic rules you can follow to help you put out a professional book and creating a storyboard will help you visualize your entire manuscript all at once.
A storyboard is a visual narrative layout spanning all 32 pages of a picture book. Creating one will allow you to keep track of your story, and make sure your word and illustration placement is perfect. It can help you think of where to pause with words and let the pictures do their magic. Many writers consider storyboarding an essential tool in the beginning drafts of a manuscript. A storyboard gives you as the author a map of the story from beginning to end. The layout verifies that text, story flow and plot work within the picture book format are consistent. You do not have to be an illustrator to construct and utilize a storyboard. Storyboarding helps you, the author, adjust basic ideas and scenes. Ideally, components of the storyboard move to give the writer control of the story structure. Everyone has there own process, but being able to clearly layout your story will help you in the long run.
When using a storyboard, write the narrative of the picture book in the numbered blocks. Four pages are usually allocated for the title, dedication and biography pages. A single block is a one-page spread, and a double block is a two-page spread. For example, I used a single block for Champ and Nessie, meaning my illustrations were not spread over 2 pages. I also chose to have my author biography at the end of the book, and the copyright and dedication pages are not combined. There are no hard rules here, just do what works best for the layout of your story.
Sketch the characters/scenes in the corresponding block. Know that this is for, you can draw a stick figure if it will help you visualize the story. I used descriptive words. For example, when our main character is confronted with a great white shark, on the corresponding block to the narrative, I wrote “Champ encounters shark, scary, big teeth, friends gathered around trembling.” Once the storyboard was complete, I sent it off to my illustrator and he created the scene. Ask yourself this, “What is the overall message of the storyboard.” Are you on a journey, learning something, helping someone? Is each spread moving your story forward? Once you have your first draft outlined, you can use post it notes to make any changes or adjustments to the spreads. Refer to the working storyboard layout draft when necessary. Plan each scene and put them together in a logical sequence. Plan transition from scene to scene. It will become apparent if you have too much content or too little. You will also be able to control where your text will end on each page. You can manipulate the story to create a dramatic page turn!
Some writers like to prepare a cork board and push pins to assemble the storyboard. Others use a poster board and post it notes. Position the board wherever gives you the best visual perspective. Write out your story board layout on the cards or notes, then you can assemble your storyboard by putting up one card at a time to create a spread. Move the cards around to experiment with the story’s sequence, pacing and plot. Brainstorm with your illustrator and get their ideas. After our first few drafts on post it notes, my husband and I used Adobe Acrobat to assemble our storyboard, it was easier for us to send our notes and ideas back and forth to our illustrator.
Although a storyboard typically has a single-page spread, 15 two-page spreads and the final one-page spread. Not all picture books are created equal. Most picture books are between 24-32 pages. The printing process requires that the number of pages be multiples of 8. Common sizes are 24, 32, or 40 pages. By far 32 pages is the most common and is where you should begin. Once your storyboard is perfect and ready to transform into your manuscript, keep in mind that your trim size, margins, and line spacing all will play a roll in your final product. Whatever platform you choose to self publish, make sure you do your research and set up your template before you begin to type it out. Or you can download one online. I will link a few below.
I created a 32 page template to help you visualize the interior structure of a standard 32 page picture book (Anatomy of a 32 page Picture Book Blog post coming next week!) and a storyboard layout template to help you with your storyboard draft. I hope you find it helpful!
Click on the links below to download.
Ask yourself these questions once you’ve drafted your storyboard:
- Is there enough action and visual interest happening in the story?
- Is there a change of a scenery, or does everything happen in one location?
- Is each part of the storyboard moving the story forward?
- Are there dramatic page turns?
Book Formatting Templates