Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Story boarding for Revision

I sat with the story before me. The main character, Sam, clearly in my mind. I needed to revise it, to add in a piece, but was uncertain how to do it. Pregnant, she was pregnant. What did that have to do with the story? I remembered when I first began to write the beginning of this story (in 2009) I discovered Sam was pregnant, but then changed it. After all, how could a pregnant person climb on a climbing wall. I hadn't thought far enough, she could be in her first trimester. So, I decided to it back in. But, I needed to understand what that had to do with the story?

The conference. Sam's at a conference when she meets another woman. That's the catalyst that starts this story off, but what is the conference for? How does it fit into the story? I need to know this too and how it connects with what happens in the story. The main character climbs the wall, she learns something about herself, about trust. I need the pieces to fit together. I know the plot, but I feel the need to visualize it. I need to write it out, write out notes. But not write a plot line. I need to see the three strings which make up the story and then weave them together.

I don't do well with outlines, especially when I'm discovering the story. This story I know. I decide now is the time to write out some of the mechanics. I pick up my pen and begin. Why is she there, what training is she getting? Rip. I stick the paper to the front window. She's pregnant. She's single. How does she feel about this? Fear - fear of being alone, undecided about continuing the relationship with the father. Rip. I stick it up beside the first paper. What does she see in Shay? I make notes and stick it up beside the first two. Next I start on the second row. Conference - FASD. Pregant - Doesn't trust herself. Shay - desperate to connect. Then comes the next row. Conference location - Banff. Pregnant - I list the feelings and barriers this has raised for her. Shay - her safety line (ooh, poor choice) Shay doesn't want to be her safety line. Then comes the last row. Walls. This story is about overcoming walls in more than one way. I list what walls each of the sections is posing.

As stand back and gaze at my stickied window, reading the threads. Things a looking much clearer and I now have some more ideas about how I'm going to proceed with this and put in the missing pieces to the story.

I'm not sure why I haven't used a story board to visually organize my ideas before. This isn't exactly a story board as it doesn't outline the story in sequence, but it is the closest thing I can think of to describe what I have done. Storyboards are generally used to lay out a films or movies in animated segments in order to tell a story. This has been used in film, theatre, comics, screen plays and many other types of digital or multi-media storytelling. I have heard of a few people tacking up cue cards to organize scenes and chapters in novels and I believe I even read an article on it in either the Writer Magazine or The Writer's Journal, but this is the first time I've ever actually attempted to use anything like it myself. It worked wonderfully.

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