Storyboard Layout

books, Writing Help FREE Templates

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.

32 Page Picture Book Layout

Storyboard Layout

Ask yourself these questions once you’ve drafted your storyboard:

  1. Is there enough action and visual interest happening in the story?
  2. Is there a change of a scenery, or does everything happen in one location?
  3. Is each part of the storyboard moving the story forward?
  4. Are there dramatic page turns?

Book Formatting Templates

https://www.canva.com

https://www.bookbaby.com/templates

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230

Writing a Children’s Book

books, Writing Help FREE Templates

How many times have you been sitting at dinner, or in a café chatting with friends and someone says, “I have this great idea for a story!” I can tell you this has happened to me personally so many times. It comes with the territory of being a writer, or a creative thinker. We live in a world that constantly inspires us. What I have learned throughout this Self- Publishing process is that an idea is worthless unless you do something with it. An idea is not enough on its own, you have to run with it, to make it worthwhile. Even if you don’t aspire to be a bestselling author, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have your story published and hold a copy of your idea, your story, in your hand. It is a really great feeling. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a commercial success. Even if your intentions aren’t to be in every bookstore around the globe (hey, you never know!) your personal success, and sense of accomplishment is what is most important.

If you want to be a professional, you have to be professional about it. You have to think on a much wider scale. Ask yourself this, “What is my niche’?” Is your story aimed for a particular age group, or for children who are learning to tie their shoelaces, or becoming potty trained? Are you trying to inspire or encourage? Is your story about the scary monster under the bed? Do you want to take your readers on an adventure? You will need to narrow it down and really decide what you goal is. And remember, wherever you are taking your readers, always make your story ends Happily Ever After.

Story development. You want a broad, international appeal if you want your story to be a success. If your idea is based on a bedtime story you made up for your own child, think bigger. Not that its necessarily a bad idea, but there are 100’s of books just like that already published. You want your book to stand out, be set apart from all the others. If you are publishing your own book, than this is fine, but if you are thinking, “Oh I would really like to have my books in shops!” Then you really have to start putting yourself into a different frame of mind.

Setting a budget. Ask yourself this, “How big of a project do I want this to be?” Does your story need illustrations? Do you want to hire someone to create your cover art? Should you hire an editor? Do you need someone to help format your book? Technically, you don’t have to spend any money on your book. But if you want to put out a quality book, and I know you do, then you should take setting a budget into consideration.

Editing and revisions. The story that you have might be really good. The chances of you writing the perfect manuscript right off are rather slim. You will need to edit and rewrite again and again (and again and again…) to develop your story. Don’t hold onto your favorite phrases or tiny ideas you have in your story. If you have a beautifully written line, or a scene that after editing doesn’t work in your storyline anymore, get rid of it! You will spend more time and energy trying to make it work. Let it go. There is a formula and flow for picture books. A lyrical, rhythmic flow. If you are trying to make it rhyme, and it wont – don’t force it. Just tell the story. A picture book does not have to be a rhyme. Make sure words that rhyme mean something.

Illustration and Cover Design. For obvious reasons, pictures are really important. Make sure your illustrator is a picture book illustrator who understands that. Don’t cram your story with description, let the illustrator help set the scene. Think of your story as a script for your illustrator. They will read it and have idea’s to help enhance your writing. Think about hiring a cover designer.

Networking and Social Media. If you really want to be a children’s books author it will help you exponentially if you have the support and help from other authors. They will help inspire and encourage you. They are a great resource for all the things you don’t know.

Self Publishing. There are so many different platforms that you can use today to self publish your story. We used Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing. But there are several very reputable sites, do some research and use what works best for your project. Sometimes a story just comes into your head. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to cross the finish line. It can be a daunting process, and it really isn’t easy. You will need to dedicate some time and learn the different software’s for layouts. If you don’t have any experience in the printing and design world, there will definitely be a learning curve. But don’t be discouraged. You can learn. Uploading your final perfect manuscript will be a great reward. Know you will make mistakes along the way.

Outsourcing help. Think about what you can and cannot do. I knew I wanted to be in the drivers seat for the interior book design, but even as a seasoned editor I knew I wanted another set of eyes proofreading my story. I also wanted an unbiased opinion on my writing. Someone to constructively criticize my work, and help me turn my story into the manuscript I wanted it to be. Of course my mom is going to think my story is amazing, she’s my mom! (She has to say that.) There are many sites you can refer to to help you hire a freelancer. I used UpWork.com. There are over 50 categories you can refer to for writing. I was able post my job and search for freelancers who I thought would be a good fit for my project and invite them to bid on my posting. I hired an amazing editor. It was money well spent!

To recap: Set a timeline and figure out your budget. Write your story, edit the story, really develop the story. If you need to, hire an illustrator. Edit your story again with the illustrations, then edit it some more. (You will do this a lot!) Hire an editor if you decide to and send to them for review. Make sure your format and layout is correct for the platform you are publishing your book on. Order a proof for review. Let other people read it and tell you what they think. Send ARC copies, get feedback from your target audience. And remember that even the most experienced self publisher has to go through all these steps.

The next step – Marketing your book! This is a whole other world. Some people can just sell things. For others this will take time. I will have another post dedicated specifically to marketing your book!

It takes an inordinate amount of luck to have a best seller. But even if you want to have a few copies of your book for your family and friends, which is great, hopefully these tips may help you.

And lastly , get your mind on your next book! The most successful authors never stop writing.

Stay inspired friends!

About the Author

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Zebulan (Zeb) Frayne is a United States Air Force Veteran, Registered Nurse, loving Husband, dedicated Father and an Eagle Scout. He has always enjoyed the simple pleasure and transcendence that reading a book can give you. He and his wife Sherry live in New Jersey with their two crazy dogs, and wonderful son.

Champ and Nessie is the couple’s first children’s book. They are inspired to write more adventures. The inspiration for this story came when the couple could not conceive a child. Zeb wanted to write a story for his wife and unborn son. This book is the epitome of love. It is a heartwarming journey of two characters that show that with persistence you can overcome any hardship. His characters are clever and fearless. Along the way, the prehistoric pals overcome many challenges and learn the value of teamwork and friendship. Zeb is passionate about inspiring kids to not give up, and to always follow your heart.