​Subscribe to my quarterly newsletter for exclusive, behind the scene information on books, new releases, sales, and my life. PLUS you'll receive a FREE Fated Series novella

* indicates required

Storyboard on a Budget for the Pantser with a Plan

You’ll see things all over the internet about Pantser vs. Plotter. This is a simplistic way of defining writing styles. Pantsers just sit down and let the words flow – flying by the seat of their pants. Alternatively, plotters work at outlining their stories first – often referred to as storyboarding. Clear as glass right?


When I write I have an idea, however vague, of where my characters are going and I let the story take me where it wants to go. That sounds like a pantser, but hey I have a game plan. But since it’s not something I wrote down, worked on, framed, I’m not a plotter. I like to think of myself as a pantser with a plan.

Until this WIP [for the uninitiated that means Work In Progress]. My characters, scenes, ideas are a jumble. No plan no matter how ethereal is in play this time. And I needed something to help me see the story.

There is software specifically designed for storyboarding. But I’m thrifty and unwilling to spend money on software I may never have a use for after I finish writing this book.  I needed another way. A fellow author I have the honor of calling a friend [Katie Kenyhenrcz], posted a picture of her storyboarding technique. A large piece of posterboard covered in post-it notes that can be moved around as needed. That appealed. But I often work on my stories at the office on my lunch break and I didn’t want to carry my plot to and from work on the el train each day. 

I needed something electronic that could be saved to my Dropbox and accessed anywhere at any time.

Here’s what I came up with:

Looks good, right? Want to make your own? Follow me!

Step One: Open a new blank document in WORD
Step Two: The next few steps will be executed in the PAGE LAYOUT tab under Page Setup.
            2a) MARGINS – narrow
            2b) ORIENTATION – landscape
            2c) SIZE – legal [or tabloid if that option is available to you]
            2d) Using the small arrow in the bottom right corner of Page Setup, and moving to the Layout tab on the pop-up menu, mouse down to alignment and chose CENTER.

[you can do steps 2a through 2c in this pop-up menu if you prefer. I don’t.]

Step Three: Under the VIEW tab, choose Page Width
I went with “Storyboard Template”.
Step Four: Go to the INSERT TAB and choose SmartArt
          4a) This triggers a pop-up listing all your options. Feel free to play around but I find that List and Process are best for this purpose. I’ve also created a family tree using this tool under Hierarchy.

          4b) Under List, I’m using the Basic Block List. Because of the formatting we’ve already done, the Basic Block List is centered and the system defaults to five text blocks.

          4c) Grab a corner and pull toward the top left. When you release, it’ll adjust for size. Keep doing this until the Basic Block List is roughly filling all the margins of your page.

             From this: To this:  

          4d) In the upper right-hand corner you’ll see a button named ADD SHAPE. Click it. You’ve added a text box. Keep clicking until you have 4 rows of 5 for 20 text boxes or 5x5 = 25. This is my preference, but boxes can always be added or removed as needed.

          4e) Click between two text boxes. And in your home screen choose select all from the edit feature. Now set the font style and size. This will update all the text boxes identically. I like Calibri size 12.

          4f) In the SmartArt toolbar (mine is purple see?) choose DESIGN.

         You can change the style you’re using, the colors, the effects. You can add and remove boxes. Promote or demote information, etc. Play around. I like red and the 3rd style.

I save now with my blank storyboard all set up.

Step Five: When you’re entering information in your boxes, you can either click on the box you want and start typing; or
            5a) Click on TEXT PANE and a window will open.

            5b) Each button represents a box. Whatever you type here will appear in the corresponding box.

            5c) You can grab a box and move it, wherever you want. You can also turn them.
            5d) But you can move them up and down from within the toolbar.

That's it: the set-up and some basics on navigating. Have fun playing with the different tools and designs. Happy plotting - I’m going back to the WIP.


  1. I'm glad you posted this so I could see your step-by-step. Makes it easier for me when I pull mine together.

    1. I'm glad someone's going to get use from it! You should've seen me trying to make an instructional video. o.O

    2. Hahaha, with you, I can imagine!

  2. Love your blog. And I am SO bookmarking this post for future reference. I'm a post-it kind of girl with an if-I-can-reach-it-I-will-touch-it kiddo. I need a better system. ;)
    -Jenn DeCuir


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Labor of Love Blog Hop

#Hello2016 My Name is..

Rockin' Reads Blog Hop