Storyboarding A Novel with Post-It Notes

Posted on | February 17, 2009



Storyboarding Princess Jera

I’ve recently begun experimenting with storyboarding my longer works the way Elmore Leonard does. He uses 3×5 cards, but I figure that with my crabbed handwriting and tragically bad organization, 1×1.5 post-it notes is going to work just fine.

The story to my left is the rubble of Princess Jera, a novel told in twenty alternating chapters of about 2500 words each, so about 50,000 words total, not novel length but good fun and practice.  The story is about half gonzo; Jera’s magic powers come from arousal and pubescence (classic themes beaten to zero Kelvin death by the X-Men and the Twilight series, but still pliable in the marketplace), the Traditionalists are terrified of a Mage upon the throne and the Mages are terrified that she’ll be like the last royal, discovered-at-puberty Mage, who damn near wrecked the kingdom with his self-indulgence and self-destructive tendencies.   That he wasn’t very bright compared to Jera doesn’t quite enter into their calculations.

With help from a friend in her father’s court, Jera finds documents from that era, four centuries prior, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery (ahem), discovers that there’s a word for her and the two mages assigned to her training have been mostly training her how to tamp down and ignore her powers.

Even worse, Jera discovers that an incident from four centuries ago that both her nation and the kingdom to the north portray as a great betrayal by her ancestors was something far, far more complicated… and she may be able to undo much of the damage.  There are those in the court who like things exactly the way they are.

The story ends with a violent confrontation in an ancient castle, a ruin where once her predecessor’s secret mage council practiced forbidden necromancy, and a discovery that will turn the entire region upside down with its implications.

The storyboard is an attempt to isolate important scenes and ideas.  Not all of those above will make it into the story.  And as I said, this is half of them; the other half is told in diaries, journals, and letters from her predecessor’s era, a cache of documents that stun Jera with their wanton depravity, so unlike the elegant, controlled concupiscience of her father’s Imperial harem.   And then among the documents Jera stumbles across the most dangerous find of all– the grimoire of another student of her predecessor’s mentor, a woman whose training made her cruel and dangerous.  Those post-it notes, with descriptions of various orgy scenes and other laciviousness haven’t  been put down yet.

It’s an attempt.  We’ll see how it goes.  I really should transfer these to a much larger canvas, like something from a very large sketchpad or something, but the notebook is a compromise between space and portability.

Comments

One Response to “Storyboarding A Novel with Post-It Notes”

  1. Falbert
    February 27th, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    The humble Post-It note is quite a good organizing tool. It’s just large enough to hold a coherent thought or sentence, in outline form, and they are cheap enough that you can brainstorm up a bunch of things, arrange them over several pages of a notebook or on one piece of wall, then rearrange, discard, make new ones… far faster than you can do it digitally, in my experience.

    I like the outline you’ve worked out for this novella so far. It may be somewhat cliche’, but the fantasy ‘self discovery to save the nation’ story still works.