Storyboard Ideas

February meeting raises Storyboard

After an hour of general discussion about our individual on-going projects the group asked me to share mine with them. This led to my sharing the use of the Storyboard.

What I do is take a single simple idea and built a framework around it. In scriptwriting, this is called a storyboard and is the basis for a variety of writing styles, particularly fact-based fiction, my preferred genre, where the story needs to follow a set path.

E.G. – developing a movie idea

In this case, my task was to take a song lyric, deconstruct it into its characters and then imaginatively shape a life around each one of them.

My chosen song, ‘The Piano Man’, by Billy Joel, is about people visiting a late night bar to drown their sorrows and contains the formidable line, ‘they are sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone!’

the Cork-Board

Basically a storyboard is just a scratch pad or, to use Scrivener’s process, a cork-board where you pin up post-it notes and can shuffle them into some sort of order. So on each ‘post-it’ I head it with each character’s name and pin them all in one section.

cork-board

I am fortunate in my recent writing life to have researched a massive history book which involved me interviewing nearly 100 interesting people, some of whom were in the final years of life. In almost every case the questions were tailored around what little information I had about them.

questions of characters

Likewise, in this situation, we apply a little intelligence to the questions we ask each player. Of course, there are the obvious ones: how old are you, colour, sex, creed etc? But then we go deeper. Why are you lonely in a bar? What has life done to you to get you here?

real-estate novelist

In one line we are fed: ‘Paul is a real-estate novelist, who never had time for a wife.’ What on earth is a real-estate novelist? So Paul, tell me about your life as an estate agent, wasn’t much fun, eh? Sold a few houses, market crashed, and you wrote what? Maybe you saw how the sub-prime market worked and discovered the smokescreen and corruption that lay behind the banking system that eventually brought the global economy to its knees? That would put me in a late night bar, for sure!

practising politician

Then there’s the waitress, who is ‘practising politics’? We’ve all met her. Doing a night job to pay her way through college? Where better than in a downtown bar? Bound to be a few washed up senators lurking around here?

… and the rest

Each one gets given a history based around what little info we have on them and then, for me, in this exercise, the fun really starts, with the shifting of the pieces. Out of these eight or so sad people, who knows who? Which one has had their life touched by another? Where have all their paths crossed?

select a protagonist

As with all good stories, we need a protagonist, and I chose the old man who is asking the piano-man to play a tune he used to know ‘when he wore younger man’s clothes!’

This guy has been around, right? Bound to have bumped into some of the other players in his 3 score years and ten? So I stick him in the middle, and weave the others around him.

it’s a learning exercise …

As this is only an exercise, I want to keep it tight, maybe a script for a 15-minute movie, or a short story. So I make only three to four scenes involving each player, each on its own post-it. I am a great believer that scenes and characters are only borrowed and there is rarely anything original left to invent, in the same way that there are only so many notes in a music scale. So, in the majority our scenes we use everyday situations that readers can relate to.

pull it together

The timing works out that the old man could have been a veteran from the Vietnam war, so there is his first scene, in the jungle in 1969. But we don’t want a chronological history of each person; that’s no fun, far too conventional! So let’s mix them up. Paul sold houses – maybe he sold one to the old fella just before the market fell?

That waitress seems like a nice girl; perhaps she helped the old man across the road or woke him up when the train reached his stop? Venn diagram centre! So finally, when we walk into that bar at 9 o’clock on a Saturday, a quick look around and we have everyone pegged down.

neat line, neat idea

Eventually, after some enjoyable head-scratching, this exercise will end up with maybe 15-20 scenes, all in a neat line, so the author, and subsequent director, can colour them in as he or she perceives them. As with musical notes, it is the combinations and order in which they are played that make a tune.

That, to me, is what a storyboard is, a simple melody.

© Andy Frazier

Short Story Competition

We talked about the Margery Allingham competition at our last meeting. The promise given, to share details, is now kept.

https://thecwa.co.uk/debuts/short-story-competition

Should we run our own writing competitions? What do you think?

Next Meeting, 4th March

In the Reading Room at

Colinsburgh Library – 7 PM to 9 PM

Preparation – if you like

Bring up to 200 words to share. This is about improvement, fun and writer-to-writer support. If you don’t want to share, that’s fine too. You are welcome.

Last meeting 7th February

Being a writer’s group, a blog about Thursday’s meeting is here, written by a Neuk member. All members are welcome to blog with us.

Directions? Why not come along …

… and enjoy a pleasant evening with interesting people who are into writing?

Come blog with us … Let’s blog let’s blog away.

If you wish, you can get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities for Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

Dyslexia-friendly

We will introduce a dyslexia-friendly approach. This may be accomplished by:

  • changing our site colour scheme, or
  • helping members set-up their browsers to meet their specific personal needs

We’re looking into this and aim to find solutions. With the storm in November and low attendance we didn’t advance this. Let’s clarify and implement our plans.

Meeting 7 February, report

Here we are again. Some of us have the lurgy, others are recovering, one or two are in rude health and don’t even know what a lurgy is. Many may have been supping medicinal whisky (this being Scotland and all) … even if they didn’t have the lurgy.

Some of us couldn’t make it, others did. All in all we are growing and finding our feet.

Writer Andy Frazier joined us last night. He shares a few thoughts about the experience below. Thanks for this, Andy.

Back into the swing

Andy Frazier

Although I have written numerous books on a wide range of subjects over the last ten years, I must confess, apart from a monthly magazine column, it has been just over two years since I last sat down to write in a professional capacity. During that time my focus has been on our other business, something which involves much more stress.

Time poor

Reaching my wits end last week, I suddenly realised that I was becoming a slave to time, rather than its keeper, and months were passing by with a rushing sound usually reserved for cyclists.

Itch to scratch

So, on Wednesday morning when I sat at my desk, instead of the usual admin, I opened Scrivener, my writing ‘app’ of choice, and started scribbling. In amongst those files are a few pages of ideas, research, crazy facts and half written projects.

An hour’s distraction from the day to day problems around me was all I was seeking. Next thing I knew, it was getting dark outside.

Coincidentally

On Thursday morning, by pure coincidence, I saw a poster on social media for Writers’ Neuk, who were due to meet that evening. I have to admit to having never physically been to a writers group before, although I do belong to a few online. Had it been any other day, I am not sure I would I have noticed it but, on this day, I decided to attend.

Inky fingers

What I found was not only a friendly bunch of like-minded people, but each one with a passion for the written word and a desire to share and receive ideas from others.

Not knowing what to expect, I had taken with me my scribbles from the day before, which had been little more than an exercise I had set myself, to get the ‘juices’ flowing again.

After an hour of general discussions about our individual on-going projects the group asked me to share mine with them. © Andy Frazier

Come back soon and read Andy’s easy introduction to the Storyboard. Ed.

Want to blog with us? Get in touch via our contact form. Our community library and Writers’ Neuk need you.

Merryn Glover at Writers’ Neuk

For our inaugural Writers’ Neuk meeting in Colinsburgh Library we invited Merryn Glover, author of A House Called Askival, to speak to us about her book and about being a writer.

Barsottibackground

A House Called Askival is based upon her own experiences growing up in South Asia and upon the period following the Second World War, when India was partitioned. Born in Kathmandu, to missionary parents, Merryn was brought up in Nepal, India and Pakistan, before training as a teacher at an Australian university.

first novel

A House Called Askival is Merryn’s first published novel but she also writes short stories and poetry, which have been published in magazines and newspapers. Over a number of years, the BBC has commissioned her plays which have been broadcast on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. Her poem, Driving Lesson, is in the Autumn issue of Northwards Now.

reading

Merryn read an excerpt from the first chapter of her book, which was greatly enjoyed by all.

learning shared

Explaining how much she enjoys writing, Merry shared some of the difficulties of being a writer, namely ways of getting published. She enjoys writing every day and is greatly encouraged to do so, by family and friends. Askival was published by the now defunct Freight Books and she is currently in discussion with another publisher, with a view to having her second novel published.

questions answered

There then followed a general discussion and questions on the writing process and getting work published. Merryn advised us, as budding writers, to:

  • never stop writing
  • consider the audience who will read our work
  • write to communicate with your readers

A lively discussion followed as the focus moved towards getting writing out there.

publishing, and all that

Self-publishing can be a way forward for many writers. It has its drawbacks but it is one way of becoming known to readers and publishers.

We also discussed how publishers focus on a number of aspects of a writer’s work including:

  • social media activity
  • self promotion

Activities like these are becoming ever more important since many newspapers publish fewer literary reviews.

marketing experience leads to improvement

Merryn suggests that attending book festivals was a way of getting her novel highlighted and cited her own attendance at the Ullapool Festival as being a positive step in becoming more well known.

She approached several publishers with Askival and now appreciates that the number of times it was refused led to improvement in it, as she kept going and adapting and changing, according to their advice.

research, rest, write, research again

We discussed how research for a novel can prevent an author actually getting down to writing a story. Merryn suggested taking a break from the research and coming back fresh, for the next stage. Her advice was that there needs to be enough of a framework to help readers understand time, place and events but mostly they want to engage with the story.

Merryn now lives in the Scottish Highlands, where she is a high school librarian, relishing the challenge of encouraging teenagers to keep reading.

thanks Merryn

We very much appreciated Merryn coming along to speak to us and offering advice an inspiration.

Next Neuk 29 November

Reading Room, 7 pmneuk logo 250

We met, we agreed and we’re going ahead. This is a short update, to keep you informed.

Preparation – if youlike

Bring up to 250 words to share and share feedback on. This is about improvement, admiration and fun.

Blog update coming soon

Being a writer’s group, the first thing we planned is a blog about yesterday’s meeting, this is being written by a group member and will be posted soon. Blogging will be shared fun.

Dyslexia-friendly

We will introduce a dyslexia-friendly approach. This may be accomplished by:

  • changing our site colour scheme, or
  • helping members set-up their browsers to meet their specific personal needs

We’re looking into this and aim to have a solution by the end of the year.

Directions?

Click here, bottom of the page