Tag Archives: writing/craft

Visual Plotting (aka Storyboarding)

Visual Plotting (aka Storyboarding)

When I first started writing, I was a pantser writer (that means I wrote by the seat-of-my-pants…no planning or plotting), but the more stories I created and the longer they became, I had to morph into a hybrid writer where I would have to write a high-level outline and then I could sit down and write my books.

I recently ran across the concept of visual plotting aka storyboarding on Rachel Vincent’s blog** and the idea really appealed to me for a couple of reasons:

1) Because I’m a very visual person
2) Because when you write bulleted items down in an outline format on paper and you print it out to read it away from your computer, you aren’t given the freedom to “mess” with the order of events/scenes(how and when they occur) as easily.

So I gave this concept a whirl for my manuscript Insurrection (the second book in my Scions trilogy that I originally published with Harlequin under their Silhouette Nocturne line).

Storyboard by P.T. Michelle
FYI: You can do this on Scrivener now! But if you prefer a tactile, hands-on approach over digital, then here’s how you do it. The concept is the same regardless.

Supplies needed:
1) Dry erase board big enough to hold a LOT of sticky notes.
2) Different colored post it notes to represent different aspects of your story, ie Main plot, main subplot, secondary plot, minor subplot and of course the romance.
3) Dry erase markers. (I tried to match mine to the sticky notes, which I’ll tell you why below)

Basically what you’re trying to do is take high-level ideas and put them on sticky notes in a one-liner format. As ideas/new scenes come to you, keep writing them down on the appropriate colored post it notes and then plunk them on your erasable marker board in no particular order. Once you have as many as you can think of, start placing your ideas/scenes on the board in the order that makes the most sense for them to happen in your story. After you have placed all of them, you might get an idea to move a scene earlier or later and that in turn might spur new ideas or scenes or plot twists for your story…to which you’ll jot down on a new post it.

In my mind, this kind of plotting helps for two reasons:

1) It’s more flexible
2) It lets you see if your story is balanced or where you might need to add more elements for a better balance.

For instance, if you look at my storyboard at the bottom of this post, you’ll see that I don’t have any light pink post its at the end. Light pink post-its represent the romance aspects of my story. Yep, I haven’t figured out yet exactly how I want the story to end. Also, since I have yellow at the beginning but nothing near the end, I can tell I need to make sure I carry my secondary plot further into the story. I have ideas for both additional light pinks and yellow posts its, and those I could either jot down on a few post its and keep them to the side until I decide which one I want to use OR I could use my markers and write out the different ending ideas on the board off to the side. That’s why the coordinated markers might come in handy.

Rachel’s example helped her formulate her synopsis, which I think is the BEST use of this storyboard…ie, high-level plotting. That’s exactly what each of those post it notes represent…plot points, twists, romantic scenes, etc that will happen in the story—and that’s exactly how you write a synopsis…at a high level.

Did Insurrection follow this outline? Some of it did, but it gave me a very loose road map and a place to “play with” ideas and tweak my story as I’m moving along.

For a great tool with many functions such as:

1) Helping you get out of a plotting rut
2) Helping you write up a synopsis when you haven’t written the rest of the story yet…ie, if you want to write a proposal to pitch to NY publishers/agents, etc.
3) Helping you tweak your novel as you’re writing it

Give storyboarding a try and see what you think.

I’ve added the storyboard below again so you can see it beside the color-coded legend (which I also pilfered from Rachel** 🙂 ).

Storyboard by P.T. MichelleGreen: Main plot
Hot pink: Main subplot
Yellow: Secondary plot
Blue: Minor subplot
Light Pink: Romance

Tip: I wrote on the back of my post it pads what each color represented. Then if I forgot while I was plotting which color went with what, I just flipped over the pad to remind myself. That should come in handy since it might be a month or two before I use the pads again for the “next” story plotting.

** Giving kudos and credit where it’s due.

NOTE: I wrote this years ago, but just ran across it in an old website archive. I’ve reposted it here so I’ll have it archived on my current website for any aspiring author or reader who is curious about the writing process. All writing tips are posted under the writing/craft, writing tips category.

Writing Process, Giveaways & Reviews!

Old School - You like? I found this in my dad's attic. We've come a long way, baby!


When I first started writing, I didn’t outline. At all. I just sat down and started writing, flying with the story right along with the characters. I was what you’d call a panster writer (I wrote by the seat of my pants). Then later, when my books’ storylines became more complex, and especially as I moved further into a series, for my own sanity I had to learn to outline.

I don’t write 100 page synopsis, because then I’d feel like I’ve already written a mini version of the story, but instead I write one-liners that say, This happens in this scene, then another one-liner that says, and then this happens in this scene. I do this over and over until I’ve created a basic outline of the whole story. That process works for me, mainly so I know “where” I’m planning to go. Do I veer off the outline? Heck yeah, but at least I can look ahead in my “very loose outline” and anticipate where I wanted to go, so I can see how to get on track. Or even if I want to. 😉 I guess my current process makes me a hybrid-pantster, because I lightly outline the story, but I still give myself lots of permission to adapt it as I go.

Haha, of course this is just my process for the rough draft. Then I layer. That’s a whole other cray-cray process. Think onions and tears, but BOY does it add flavor to the story! 😉

As far as writing a story, I’m an linear writer, which means I write the story that I see playing in my head like a movie from start to finish. I might think ahead to scenes I want to write, but I don’t actually write that scene until I get to it in the story. I have some writer friends who write all over they place, meaning that they write the scenes in the story as the scenes come to them and then at the end, they piece all the scenes into place, moving them around and weaving them into the story. It always boggles my mind that some of my friends can work like that. LOL! But see that’s the beauty of it, there’s not a right or a wrong way to create a story. It all comes down to how YOUR writing brain works to help you get the story written. 🙂


Check out the guest blog I did with Kristi at The Book Faery where  wrote about mythology and the BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS world.  While you’re there, enter for a chance to win two different prizes, 1 eBook and 1 print copy of BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS!  (Giveaway ends in 3 days)


Don’t forget, I’m offering a chance to win a SIGNED copy of BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS!  Go here to enter. (Giveaway ends in two days)


Anna has asked several authors a series of interview questions on her The Bursting Bookshelf blog over the past week. Go here to check out my answers to:

1) Where did you come up with the idea for your book?
2) Did you find finishing writing your book bittersweet?
3) What is your favorite part of writing for the genre that you do?
4) What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an author?
5) Was there any part of your book that was particularly hard to write?
6) Who was your favorite character to write and why? Who was your least?
7) Did you put any aspect of your life into your book?



“…Highly entertaining to those of those who enjoy the paranormal with a good amount of romance mixed in…” Click here to read the entire review at JJ Reads


Also, I recently added a sign up form for my newsletter. If you want to be instantly informed when I have a new release, click here and fill out the form sign up for my newsletter.


Writing Tip ~ Using Text-to-Speech with Edits & Recent Reviews


An author friend suggested that I try the Text-to-Speech feature on my Kindle when it was time for me to do a read through on my current manuscript. She said she found it really helpful. I figured I’d give it a shot. When doing edits, I normally go through at least three rounds before my critique partners ever see the book. First round is on the computer, then second round is on paper and then the third round is on my Kindle (where I upload the file to my Kindle and read it there). Doing this allows me to see my manuscript in several different ways. You’d be surprised the things you can catch using different mediums while going through edits.

So, as my last round reading over my book on my Kindle, I also turned on the Text-To-Speech feature. Notice I said ALSO. What I mean by this is, I turn on the TTS AND I read the words along with the guy reading them to me. You’d be surprised how many little things your eyes just “slip over” BUT if you’re also hearing it at the same time, you tend to catch more things beyond general typos like: repetitive words, repetitive phrases and missing words. When I do this, I turn it on the fastest function and kind of speed read through it.  Hey, another added benefit…maybe I’ll learn to read faster. LOL!

Give this a try the next time you’re going through edits on your manuscript and see if it doesn’t help. I know I’ll ALWAYS use the TTS feature now.


“The chemistry between Nara and Ethan blew me away. It’s pretty close to what I remember feeling between Mac and Barrons in Karen Marie Moning’s Shadowfever series. For that reason alone, I’d recommend the book. They get pretty steamy – without there even being any sex!” Click here to read the entire review at Never Too Fond of Books


“I liked how Brightest Kind of Darkness kept me guessing through the entire novel. Brightest Kind of Darkness sets up for the second book wonderfully as I have so many questions about Nara and Ethan” Click here to read the entire review at Vamps, Weres and Cassay


“If you’re a YA PNR lover but your bored with the mediocrity of the genre’s recent additions this will restore your faith. Brightest Kind of darkness is a well crafted paranormal romance with a refreshing and original plot, I couldn’t get enough.” Click here to read the entire review on Reads With Reckless Abandon


“Brightest kind of darkness is completely unique and original to anything else I have read before, I really loved the concept and am looking forward to the next book in the series, Lucid, so I can, hopefully, find out the answers to some burning question we’re left with at the end….” Click here to read the entire review at Bookaholics