Storyboards are helpful for any story. They give the author a direction to follow throughout the course of the project. But for children’s picture books, they are essential. Creating a storyboard ensures that the plot and pacing of your story make sense. It lays out everything you want to include and provides room to add or take away scenes as needed. Storyboards can also help highlight areas where text is unnecessary, and you can let the illustrations speak for themselves.
If you’re panicked at the thought of having to draw, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a professional illustrator to make a storyboard. Simple sketches are more than enough to help you plot the story structure. There are many ways to create a storyboard that suits any preference.
A storyboard is designed to help you visualize your entire manuscript all at once. There are many mediums you can utilize to create your storyboard to your liking. Some ideas include:
- Sticky notes
- Index cards
- A dry erase board/chalkboard
Test out a few methods and decide what will be most helpful for you. You may end up using multiple approaches in different drafts of your storyboard. Once you’ve chosen a method, it’s time to get started.
How to Make a Storyboard
1. Block Out Your Children’s Book
Each block (sticky note, index card, etc.) represents a single page of your book, and picture books are typically 32 pages. However, you can always add more if needed. To block out your book, first number each block to help you keep your story in order. Next, remember to set aside at least four blocks for the title, dedication, and biography pages. Then, write the narrative on the remaining blocks. Remember to leave room for illustrations.
2. Add Illustrations
As mentioned previously, don’t worry if you aren’t much of an artist. This storyboard is for your eyes only. Stick figures are completely fine if they help you plan your story.
Drawing your children’s book yourself can help inspire new ideas. You may think of new subplots, characters, or even just background actions that would add something to your story. This step can also show you areas where it would be best to take out text descriptions you can instead show in pictures.
If certain things are beyond your illustration capabilities but you still want to include them in the final product, write notes for the illustrator. Sticky notes are a great way to include your comments without overwhelming each block. However, keep your notes simple. Add what you need to happen but give the illustrator room to add their own unique touches. That’s what you hired them for!
Once your blocks are finished, it’s time to assemble your storyboard.
3. Assemble (and Reassemble) Your Storyboard
Organize your blocks to create an initial spread. Then, move the blocks around. Don’t be afraid to experiment here. Nothing is set in stone. You may find better ways to sequence your story, and maybe even have more ideas to improve the plot. Add more notes to your blocks as the ideas come to you.
4. Edit Your Storyboard
Once you think your storyboard is finished, ask yourself these questions:
- Is enough happening in the story? Is too much happening?
- Are the visuals interesting?
- Is the plot interesting?
- Does everything happen in one place, or is there a change of scenery?
- Is each block progressing the story?
Go through each block with these questions in mind. Mark any areas that need improvement, go through your notes, and revise. Soon you will have a polished storyboard and be well on your way to publishing your children’s book.
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