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Friday, March 17, 2006

Saving the Cat Storyboard

Previously, in Pooks's attempts to save the cat....

I had one row of my storyboard filled out. The top row, the first act. Now I have the thing pretty full, and the holes are in the third act which Blake Snyder says is pretty typical and not a prob. (And now that I look at the white cards on the bottom row of the pic, there are not that many holes, geez. I know how the romcom works out, and the subplots. I've just been too lazy to slap the post-its up there, which I should fix, huh?)

This brings us to the actual implementation of the storyboard.



TA-DA!

Okay, it's messy, but it's working for me.

I bought a black foamcore board, divided it into four rows of ten blocks, ending with the requisite 40. (Note to self: Next time self wants black, ask self "how will self actually mark on black?" before buying. Second note to self: Thank mom for pulling white tape out of her Mom's Bag O' Tricks (tm) so I could mark the board.)

After dividing the board into four rows of ten, I realized that the 3X5 cards would have to be vertical instead of horizontal. That was no big prob, though, since I knew I was going to use post-its and this actually works a little better.

I used 4x6 fucshia index cards for major beats -- turning points, midpoints, inciting incidents, etc. (Yes, I'm holding on to much of my old terminology instead of incorporating Snyder's. It's just easier for me.)

I used 3x5 white index cards for other scenes, reserving the right to use other colors as needed -- but I never did.

I only wrote directly on the first three cards. I figured out that wasn't really necessary and after that only wrote on the post-its. Post-its will be added as I write, to track characters and subplots more than I've already done, and to remind me of anything I need reminding of. The yellow, blue, purple and green post-its each represent a different character.

What I found most useful was the culmination of what Snyder said in his book -- that the prep work, even the busy work, IS part of the process.

I immersed myself in source material, and as soon as I began to get glimmers of story, I started working on the board. Because I don't absorb details well, I found myself sitting at my desk with my storyboard on the easel beside me, with post-its, scissors, gluestick* and other sundry playthings around me, and the book, Save the Cat.

I dashed off scene/dialogue/plot things and slapped them on the board, as I constantly dug back into the book rereading the section on "Bad Guys Close In" or "Midpoint" or whatever.

Because I wanted my board more detailed, I made labels (using my Brother P-Touch label-maker as recommended in getting things done -- and yes it does make a big difference to have something actually neatly labeled instead of my mess scrawl) and used a green background if it was a one-page thing -- like "Catalyst" or "Midpoint." And yellow background if it was an entire section of the script -- like "Debate" or "Fun & Games." (The yellow got crazy since I was using a paper cutter to cut yellow strips of post-its. I am not crafty, and it shows!)

But the back and forth between the book and the board, and the figuring out how to define things for my own clarification fed the creative process, because for several days the ideas were just exploding.

I'm now at the point where I just start writing. (See my progress bar? I already have. Of course now I also have to remember how to do percentages, gah! Numbers aren't my friends!) But writing involves more research, since I'm having to dig out info about the worlds/professions my characters inhabit. It's never easy, is it? But still, this process has been fast, a lot faster than my usual lay around for weeks or months waiting for inspiration.

So far, Save the Cat is getting high marks from me.

So to recap:

February 22: I pitched the idea/logline to the producer and she loved it.

March 13: I finished the plot outline.

March 15: I started writing.

Okay, I'm scaring myself.

I think I need to go sit down and take deep breaths for awhile....



* I looked at several places before I found "restickable" gluestick. Maybe I didn't know what to call it. I just described it as "gluestick that uses post-it glue, so you can remove it and restick it and it doesn't harden," but people kept telling me they'd never heard of it. I finally found some at Staples. But I used it to put the index cards and labels up.

13 Comments:

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous alexandra said...

WOW! Can you come and work for me? How organized you are... I bet you're keeping staples in business single-handedly! ;-)

Keep at it. And let's hope this is a wonderful success story Sweetie!

 
At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Cindy said...

WOW, I'm impressed and ready to read the script...

Need any help researching? I'm actually pretty good at that type of thing, but no one ever wants what I look up so I do it for ME and I learn so much.

You GO girl....

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Cindy said...

Off the subject, but looking at your eye in your profile reminded me, did you submit your eye to pics4education? There is one there and I thought of you when I saw it.

Why do we have word verification now?

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger pooks said...

I may take you up on that, Cindy!

I should make a post about pics4education, and no it never occurred to me to loan my eye!

Word verification is because I started getting some spam, and got tired of deleting it. I never had as many probs as some people do, but it was beginning to snowball so I figured, why wait?

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Cynthia said...

It's so much fun when it works. 94%!

Thanks for the sidebar link. Made me laugh -- innocent to the best of my knowledge - keep thinking that. :)

 
At 6:40 PM, Blogger ronniebeegood said...

Very impressive and an inspiration! Sounds like the Save the Cat thing is working and you are making fantastic progress. Reminds me that I am a slacker and need to update my storyboard. I like the post-it note idea. Thanks for sharing this and also for putting my link on the "innocent" list. Now, I just need to get a cool image like that eye you have!

 
At 11:25 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Wowsers! You are SMOKin' girl!
I finally finished STC! today -- great, fantastic book. Yesterday I finished my BS2 for my novel, Gino's Law. As for the actual writing, I'm a few pages into Act II (100+ pages.)
Purr.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger pooks said...

Show off!

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Candace said...

Oh, heavens no -- if I wanted to be a showoff, I would have mentioned my two rounds of email correspondence with the author, Blake.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger pooks said...

I rest my case.

Ahem.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger shecanfilmit said...

It's great! I love the processing of laying stuff out on the board. It helps you think in a way that outlining in a Word document doesn't.

I've got a similar-looking board. I'll share the whole thing soon. (I know I said that a month ago.)

Also, thanks for the link!

 
At 8:25 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Yes, you keep promising, promising!

Today I came to the conclusion that I'm still going to make the 3x5 cards -- for several reasons, but primarily so I'll actually be able to take them with me, which is something I stressed from the beginning but let slide when I started working on the storyboard.

I think the process of using the board is terrific, but it doesn't replace actually having the portable cards. Which is fine, it just means (gasp!) another trip to Office Depot!

 
At 7:57 AM, Blogger nerium_oleander said...

Pooks this makes my head explode. Also, Blake Snyder dropped a link over at his site to this. You're crazy, you.

 

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