Storyboarding for Novelists

save the cat by blake snyderStoryboarding is a plotting technique used by screenwriters, but it’s also popular with some novelists. I like it since I’m a planner, not a pantser. Storyboarding is not a rigid plotting device. The whole point of the board is that it’s flexible. The greatest advantage is seeing exactly how your novel is “built,” just as an architect refers to a blueprint.

Now, I realize that some purists eschew structuring their work according to a storyboard. That is fine for those who wish to write Litrachure. But as popular Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins once said, “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story.” I feel the same way, and I don’t think storyboarding need adversely affect good writing. Continue reading “Storyboarding for Novelists”

Ripping Off Bob Dylan

On Tuesday, my post was about quick writing exercises. I taught writing workshops for years and our ‘go to’ exercise was something I called ‘circle writing’ (creative, no?). Everyone sits in a circle. Five minutes. No revision. Share. Usually, I provided a prompt. Sometimes it was something very vague like ‘sky’. Sometimes it was more complex: ‘You are an 80 year old blind man.’ The prompt quickly becomes unimportant because it is merely a jumping off point. So, that was Tuesday.

Continue reading “Ripping Off Bob Dylan”


Author Lin Robinson

Having dwelled, last month, on several posts about “rules” and concepts I advised writers to ignore or at least salt down, I thought I should balance it with some more positive material; tips to help writers work better. It surprises many to learn that I actually have a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. From the University of Washington, to be precise: Go Huskies! But I learned more while writing for a living: meeting deadlines for newspapers, pressure to write better than the staff on magazines, measuring copy against sales figures for catalogs. And in all those classes and decades of exposure to pro writers, I only picked up a bare handful of tips that I feel are useful enough to pass along to others. So, since I rate in top echelons of truly wonderful guys, that’s what I’m going to do. These are things that actually help and actually work. They are additive, rather than prohibitive tips, ranging from truly simplistic to fairly arcane. And both kind of mystical.

I’ll start out at the simple end of the scale, with something that might just seem silly to many. But for some reason it works. I first heard it from the editor of an Army newspaper, and later, almost word for word, while interviewing a great American writer, the late Ross Thomas. Here goes. Continue reading “MOVE IT OR LOSE IT”