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How to do a storyboard for children's books

A storyboard is a visual narrative layout spanning all 32 pages of a trade picture book. Many writers consider storyboarding an essential tool in the beginning drafts of a manuscript. A storyboard gives authors direction of the story from beginning to end. The layout verifies that text, pacing and plot work within the picture book format. A writer does not have to be an illustrator to construct and utilise a storyboard. Storyboarding can assist non-illustrating writers adjust basic sketches and scenes. Ideally, components of the storyboard move to give the writer control of the story structure. There are many versions of storyboards to suit the preferences of the writer.

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  1. Draw and number 32 large blocks on the dry eraser board with the dry marker. Picture books are typically 32 pages, and each block represents a page. If your book is longer, add more blocks. You can also use a blackboard and chalk. This will be the preliminary rough draft.

  2. 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.

  3. Sketch the characters in the corresponding block. Non-illustrating writers may use rudimentary sketches or stick figures. Study the overall message of the storyboard. Make any necessary changes or adjustments to the spreads.

  4. Number each of the 32 index cards, reserving four for the credit pages.

  5. Write the narrative on the numbered cards. Draw the scenes and characters. Medium-sized Post-its may also be used. Colour coding and using multicoloured cards can add detail. Refer to the working draft on the chalk or dry board if necessary.

  6. Prepare the cork board and push pins to assemble the storyboard. Position the board on the wall or floor, in whatever position is most comfortable for you and gives you the best visual perspective.

  7. Assemble your storyboard by putting up one card at a time to create a spread. A storyboard typically has a single-page spread, 15 two-page spreads and the final one-page spread.

  8. Move the cards around to experiment with the story's sequence, pacing and plot. Add self-adhesive stationery notes like Post-its to include any new notes.

  9. Tip

    Use the zoom feature on Microsoft Word to create several pages for a computerised storyboard version. Move the zoom past the midpoint to 50 or 60 to create two-page spreads. The type will be small, so increase the font size to 24.

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Things You'll Need

  • Large cork board
  • Push pins
  • 3x5 index cards
  • Large dry eraser board
  • Dry marker
  • Self-adhesive stationery notes

About the Author

Kathy Price has been writing since 1990. Her work appears in “Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe," “African Voices” and "The World." Price taught at City University of New York for six years, edited "Tribes" magazine and received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.

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