Why Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for YA Writing - KIDPRESSROOM

Why Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for YA Writing


By Nyla Lee

Writing is a grueling and exhausting process. You have drafts, pre-drafts, post-drafts, final drafts for the final draft. You’re pulling your hair out, and crying over a cluttered desk with sloppy handwriting. Much of it is worth it, in the end. 

A splendid masterpiece is born from this exhaustion. However, there has to be an easier way for young adult writers to plot their stories without such mind-boggling happenings making the process so miserable. 

This is where visual storyboards come to play. But just how beneficial are they for the average young adult writer?

What Is a ‘Visual Storyboard’?

A visual storyboard is as it sounds, a storyboard that contains visual mediums, such as images, drawings, and videos to give creatives physical manifestations of their stories.

Visual storyboards are akin to outlines, in which a story is in its drafted and disastrous form. For this reason, It is one of the best times for you to make mistakes, add content, remove content, and adjust character motivations and arcs.


How Are Visual Storyboards Used?

In film, writers use visual storyboards to create sketches and visual outlines as a means of making sense of scenes. This is where storyboards are most familiar, as many screenwriters use visuals to successfully mend a story without a great deal of flaws. 

Animated films, such as The Little Mermaid, are a perfect example of where writers sketch out a scene and format it through their visuals.

When it pertains to novels, visual storyboards are not the most popular. Many writers use written outlines and templates that lack visuals. 

Ways Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for YA Writing - KIDPRESSROOM

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Why Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for YA Writing

However, visual storyboards go beyond the traditional sketches and added content.  Here are three ways visual storyboards are beneficial for YA writing.

Visual Storyboards Help You With Character Visuals

Visual storyboards are beneficial for YA writing because they can help you with character visuals. Not only that, but visual storyboards allow you to sketch out or find images of people who vaguely fit the description of your character.

When writing characters, you think you have the perfectly crafted image of your protagonist in your mind. Down to the freckles on the right side of their cheek and glossy black hair, you have specific features in mind for your characters. 

However, the face is usually foggy and not exact. You struggle to picture the structure of their nose and the defining shape of their eyes without the basic description. This is where storyboards are proved helpful.

The writers for The Little Mermaid used Alyssa Milano, who was a child star at the time, as a reference for Ariel and her final appearance in the film. Using character references is not a new concept, but it is beneficial when it pertains to young adult writing and writers.

As a writer myself, I use Pinterest for character visuals. Since the site has multitudes of nondescript and diverse images of models, it is easy to add a collection of their photos to a board for visual inspiration. 


Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for Tracking Your Settings

Settings are essential to a story’s plot, especially that of a young adult story. It allows you to have a set place for the YA story’s arc and happenings. However, you ought to understand your story’s setting and recall where you described things in your various story drafts. 

Like YA character visuals and references, having references and visuals for settings is extremely beneficial. It gives you a physical idea of how your characters will maneuver about a place without forgetting mentioned locations. 

In other words, having visual references keeps you aware of your characters’ surroundings without intermingling settings. Remember that at this point, you might have written a lot or put a lot into the story. In YA writing, this is especially helpful when there are multiple settings with significant visual cues that you want the audience to recognize and remember. 

This recollection is what adds continuity to your writing. And it forces you to recall your own words and points you have presented to your readers.

Visual Storyboards Help You Create Smooth-Flowing Scenes

Going back to the more traditional use of visual storyboards, young adult writing tends to include mystical and whimsical elements throughout its plots. From demon-slaying warriors to wizards, the plot tends to have a disembodied element that is pertinent to the story–something you should keep in mind, as the author.

This is where sketching out scenes, and therefore, visual storyboarding is beneficial for young adult writing. Much young adult writing has fantastical fight scenes that capture an audience’s attention. However, writing a fight scene takes more than imagining it in your head. Solving visual representations of these scenes helps the plot and the writing’s continuity.

When I need to reference an exciting scene, I gain influence from films. Specifically, I choose films with well-choreographed fight scenes to ensure I understand what a good fight looks like.  Many of those films have behind-the-scenes clips depicting actors and their doubles acting out fight scenes without the bustle of the film occurring. And that is an especially helpful visual representation to add to a storyboard. 

Because I want to write YA books, I also gain influence from fight scenes from YA authors that specialize in action sequences.

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Conclusion on Why Visual Storyboards Are Beneficial for YA Writing

In the end, visual storyboards have much credence in the writing world. From filmmakers to authors, visual storyboards are representative of finding diverse ways to outline a story without using the traditional outline lacking visuals and references. 

They allow you to format settings, scenes, and characters in a way that is productive and entertaining for creatives. Using these tips and disregarding the traditional outline can make for an enticing outlining experience.

As a YA author, do you find visual storyboards to be beneficial for your creative process? If you haven’t tried it out, would you do it to save a month’s worth of drafts piling up during your outlining sessions?