Creating a Book from Scratch with N0 Experience! Episode 4 - Storyboard of Doom

January 30, 2017

by David Kanellis


About this Article Series:
I’m David, and I’m not an artist. I’m not a writer or a creative professional of any sort. However, in the next year I will be releasing 6 issues of a Comic Book, a Children’s Book, releasing a new Web Comic, and as many collaborative projects as I can. I’m going to do all of this while working full time and spending time with family and friends as well - and I’m going to share with you how you can do the same!
This article series is going to help you understand how to execute your project, and I’m going to entertain you by showing you mine! We get to see the steps I am taking in order to produce something excellent while maintaining my lifestyle!
I’ve spent a great deal of time researching the process of creating and publishing my own story. In this series, I will share what I learned in order to help you understand how the publishing process and story creation works! Follow me as I show you the ins and outs of a self-publishing venture - what to expect, what it will cost, and all the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way!
Episode 1 - Where does it begin?...Setting up initial goals and what to do before you begin your project!
Episode 2 - Organizzzation - the habits to build now, so that you can manage your project and life!
Episode 3 - Story Time - the keys to creating a compelling story and characters

Episode 4 -  Storyboard of Doom - Dumping your whole story into a few short pictures

When you are creating a new story, there are certain literary guidelines that have to be followed in order to ensure that your work is able to be absorbed by your audience. If you are writing something, chances are you want to share it with the world! You have to take the passion within you and translate it to the paper in front of you.

So how do you take the story, which may or may not be clear in your mind, and format it in a way that is clear to the reader and entertaining? Just like the last time you wrote an essay (maybe high school for some of us), you need to stick to the basics, with one additional piece added specifically for storytelling: Outline,  Storyboard, Rough Draft Script (s), Final Draft Script.

Outline -

The outline of your story is like watching a 2 hour movie in 5 minutes. If you had to explain the main plot events, characters, messages, and points to a complex script in a short while, that would equate to the outline.

There are a ton of sources to learn how to make an outline, but I’m going to tell you the only 2 things you need to know about outlines:

1. There is no correct way to produce an outline

Outlines are a series of notes, doodles, pictures, references, magazine clippings, and whatever else you deem necessary to create a shell for your story.

When you are creating your outline, remember that the goal is to tell the story in a hurry, keeping the best and brightest details. Only you need to be able to read your outline, and every time you discover a new special detail or moment in your story, you want to make sure you add it to the relevant part of your outline. Scribble it in a margin if necessary, but make sure you write it down. Your outline is a great place to dump little ideas so that when you sit down to write your script.

For Traveler, I utilize the accessibility of Google Drive to ensure that I can update my Outline (and thus the entire story) at a moment’s notice. Traveler’s outline is about 700 words per issue. That might seem like a lot, but when broken down to 24 pages we’re talking about a small paragraph per page. This format lets me cut and paste paragraphs, use bullet points or lists, and color code different story arcs so I can keep track of each portion of the story, making sure I don’t spend too much time away from the main story or too much time on a side story.

Whatever you choose for your format, just make sure it’s something that you can a) update often, and b) you can read it easily.


2. An Outline is a Living Thing

This means that it is a living, breathing thing. You must tend to it as often as you can - updating, adding, tweaking, changing, and adjusting to your liking. The outline will allow you to sculpt your story, but it won’t be perfect the first time (or second, or third…). Don’t be afraid to play with your story in this mode. Try different elements that will change the direction of your story - such as adding a love interest, killing off a character, or granting a new power to your protagonist. These are not elements that you have to keep, but with a well crafted outline you can easily document and then later identify new portions of your story that might very well make it a masterpiece!

While you may be looking at a bit of a mess after you’ve added and re-arranged things - but this is why you must have your outline displayed in a manner that is easy for you to read and reference. Use hyperlinks to remind you of sources or inspirations, take notes in margins, use sticky notes - whatever your heart’s desire. As with your story, your outline is a representation of your process!

Storyboard -

The storyboard is a series of frames that represents the major scenes and events in your story. Depending on who you ask, the storyboard is one of the most important steps in creating a story as it transforms the outline into a visual representation of what you are trying to tell.

1. List your major plot events and main characters:

Before you can start doodling your scenes, you need to make sure you know what they will contain. Start by creating a list of all of your main characters (i recommend getting used to calling them by their initials) and a list of all major events (which you should conveniently have from your outline).

2. Manage your Timelines:

Traveler covers multiple dimensions, so timelines can get pretty hectic within the story. Because of this, I chose to use the background of the comic frames to create a singular background for each world that the story was following. This was my way of creating a quick visual key for the reader to know “where they are.” You could do the same thing when flashing back, changing fonts or just clearly explaining the transition. For this portion of the story’s creation, we don’t need to worry about the specifics quite yet, but make sure that at least you know when and where things are happening. Even if your story is linear, you’re going to need to explain the timing at some point!

3. Start Doodling:

Now that we know when, where, and what - it’s time to illustrate the how. This is where we draw tiny little sketches (called thumnails) that visually explain the sequence of events within our story. It should look like a crude comic strip when you’re done with it. I strongly recommend not spending much time making the art pretty or correct during this process. If you try and make your thumbnails pretty, it will be impossible for you to get to the actual art of the project! At the same time, if you are collaborating with someone, the sketches should be more clear. Use notes and text areas to help describe the scene for anything the doodle left out.

Trust me - thumbnails can be as crude as you want them to. Here’s Issue #0 (Prologue) of Traveler’s storyboard:

Well... I can read it...

That’s it. 15 tiny little (crappy) pictures and about 100 scribbled words tell the whole issue’s events. Now, of course you will not see the mood or get to enjoy the art, but that’s what the final product is for! Here’s a sneak peak at the art of one of the pages from Issue #0 to wrap up!

Next week we’ll start our script and talk about what makes a good script! Keep in mind, if you’re pitching your idea to a publisher, the script is the major element you’re going to deliver, so be sure to tune in and learn what it’s all about!

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