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February 8, 2022

How To Create a Storyboard: Easy & Fast

If you're in the planning stages of your script, then a storyboard could help you out. Writers need to plan their ideas to see the big picture. Which character arcs are going nowhere and can be cut back? How long is your script? Where is the climax? Is Act 1 too long? Where does the exposition turn into rising action?

This article will show you how to create a storyboard that takes your script to the next level before you start writing.

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a visual representation of your story. Later on in the film production process, you'll see that producers and filmmakers tend to storyboard out a film or TV show as one of the early stages of development once a script has been given the green light.

This is where specific scenes are drawn one by one on small squares of paper, enabling the director and producer to see what will happen and when.

The process began with Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s for his cartoons.

Storyboard from a Walt Disney film.
Original storyboards from a Walt Disney production.

The purpose of a storyboard for writers is to help visualize the narrative arcs and the different acts and scenes throughout the entire project. It can help you keep your script and thought organized and writing on track.

It's easy to compartmentalize your writing and focus on the blow-by-blow of specific scenes, but the bigger picture can get lost. This is where storyboards come in handy. If you storyboard from the beginning, this process will come in handy when you or producers and agents want to alter your script. Because, of course, if a producer asks for you to change your ending, this will inevitably impact other areas of your Plot.

How to create a storyboard

There are a couple of different ways to create your storyboard. You can sketch one up manually with a pen and paper (or a whiteboard), use various online tools or create a storyboard within a screenwriting software, such as utilizing the Storyboard feature in Arc Studio Pro. This last option is what we recommend for you to streamline your writing process and keep everything together in one place. However, we'll outline all your options below.

Creating a storyboard on paper

The old-fashioned way to make a storyboard is to draw one either on paper or on a whiteboard. Long gone are the days when you need to worry about someone wiping your whiteboard and losing all your ideas; you can take a picture of it on your phone and store it in your files forever.

The latest iOS updates on iPad and iPhone even let you convert handwritten words to text you can edit.

Consider the best way to organize your ideas. For example, you may wish to list your scenes and acts with a brief slugline of what happens in each one. Alternatively, you may want to plot the highs and lows of individual characters or all of your characters on a flow chart or graph. For example, you could use different colored whiteboard markers to make it clearer to the eye.

Handwritten storyboard on paper.
Fill in your storyboard manually on paper.

Using free online tools

There are several free online tools you can use to storyboard. One creative way to go about organizing big projects like screenplays is Notion. Notion acts like your personal Wikipedia page. You can embed documents videos, create databases, link pages together, and tag individuals.

You could create a database listing all of your acts and within each act each scene. For example, you could use the tags feature to give a slugline and indicate which characters are in which scene. You can also keep track of different drafts and copy your storyboard over to your new draft when appropriate.  

Tools like Plot allow you to import your script directly and automatically turn it into a storyboard. Please note that Plot is not free. You could even use a simple word processor to create a table that you could print out and fill in.

If you happen to own an iPad, you can use the Apple pencil to draw your storyboard out, saving it for another day. You don't have to worry about running out of space as you would do on a real whiteboard, and you have access to hundreds of different colored pens.

Creating a storyboard on Arc Studio Pro

By far, the easiest way to create your storyboard is to do it on Arc Studio Pro. The most significant benefit is that you can write your script and your storyboard in the same program. Arc Studio will automatically take care of the process as you write your script.  

Arc Studio lets you organize your key story ideas into beats. For example, you can tag each beat with different characters, locations, and plot points and color-code them. If you use beats from the very start of your process, you can build your storyboard as you go along.

A great feature you can use on Arc Studio Pro is the Arc Mode to help you see your different beats and storylines on a colorful graph.

A storyboard created in Arc Studio Pro screenwriting software.
Arc Studio Pro allows you to create colorful storyboards of your different beats, scenes, and acts.

As well as these exciting features, you can also access the board at any time. This is a breakdown of the key scenes and acts in your screenplay and the beats contained within it.

Remember, you can also import classic structures like Save the Cat or the five or three-act structure templates before you start planning your story to assist you in sticking to a plan that will impress screenplay executives and agents.

If you want to create a storyboard in Arc Studio Pro, watch this video!

How to create a storyboard: find what works for you!

Creating a storyboard will be a great help when it comes to making structural edits to your screenplay. If you feel lost when you're writing your first draft, a storyboard can also keep you on track and motivated.

There are multiple ways of creating a storyboard. You can use a classic whiteboard, an iPad, or free organizational software. With a few tutorial videos on YouTube, you can make these tools work for what you want.

However, if you want to know how to create a storyboard most easily, then that would always be to use Arc Studio Pro. This is a great tool, and it means you can keep your scriptwriting in one easy-to-use program. Happy storyboarding!

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How To Create a Storyboard: Easy & Fast
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. In addition, he was a senior ghostwriter at Story Terrace from 2015- 2021, the private memoir firm.

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