“The Board is a way for you to “see” your movie [think manuscript] before you start writing. It is a way to easily test different scenes, story arcs, ideas, bits of dialogue and story rhythms, and decide whether they work–or if they just plain suck…And the best part is, while you’re doing all this seemingly ridiculous time-wasting work , your story is seeping into your subconscious in a whole other way.”
Brilliant! The system is tactile, colorful and communicative right down to the murky depths of creativity.
How does it work? You start with a “board” which can be a piece of chart paper, blackboard, whiteboard, wall, or whatever flat space you have and create four long rows which represent: Act One, the first half of Act Two, the second half of Act Two and Act Three. For me this translates to:
- the first quarter of my story ending with the first turning point,
- the second quarter ending with the second turning point,
- the third quarter, during which the bad guys gather, ending in the black moment and crisis and
- the denouement.
Scenes are jotted down on index cards and placed on the continuum. You color code them and detail the emotion and conflict changes in each one (nb. he details and easy system for this in the book). The cards are placed where you think they belong and then you move them around as your story begins to takes shape adding and deleting scenes as needed.
Snyder recommends using 40 cards, 10 per line but I’m not going to worry about numbers yet. It will be interesting to see how many it will take and where they tend to bunch up.
“One great part about using The Board is the easy way you can identify problem spots”
In other words, you find the black holes that are sucking the life out of your plot and screwing with your pacing. I think of it as a my story shoelace, it pulls together all the bits and pieces that are floating in my head to give me a solid footing. How cool is that?
I’m about 19,000 words into the story I’m putting up on my first Board. Below is a picture of my first attempt. I haven’t added much detail to the scenes, or noted the emotion and conflict yet.
Then You Take the Plunge:
Snyder describes the experience of the writer:
“We’ll be the guy up on the dock that feeds the oxygen tube down to you, the deep-sea diver, as you descend into the depths of your subconscious mind. Make sure that in your life you too have similar support from friends and loved ones. Because as you drop into the depths of your story, trying to capture the thoughts and the feelings you need to accomplish your mission, you have to trust that those up in the real world are supporting you and are watching your back. It’s weird down there! You’ll see all manner of wondrous and strange things, be amazed by what you’re capable of handling, and surprised by how great an experience it can be. But it’s also dangerous; doubt and anxiety will plague you, and , like the bends, it will cause you to see fearful things that aren’t even there.” (p. 116, Blake Snyder, Save the Cat, Sheridan Books Inc. 2005))
Have you experienced “the writer bends” lately? Been story boarding? Love to hear from you. Have a great week.