Title for my upcoming novel, Joy After Noon
Initially, the idea behind my title was that my protagonist Joy’s life has been lonely (and joy has been elusive) since her parents died when she was sixteen, and she has about given up on finding love when she meets Ray. She comes into his ready-made family and, for a time, this seems like a mistake to her. However, in the afternoon of her life, she finds love and joy.
When does the afternoon of life begin? Joy is much younger than I am, but she’s never been in a serious romantic relationship before, and she no longer expects one to happen when she meets Ray. She does not consider herself particularly desirable or even attractive, and she’s thrilled that Ray finds her beautiful. Doubts emerge, though, after the honeymoon, and soon she begins to question his real motives in marrying her.
Yet, I think the concept goes deeper than this, and the afternoon of life does not begin at a particular age, or even stage of life. In the novel, Ray has been pursuing career success and material acquisitions, and experiences a significant change of direction. Some fairly disastrous events in his workplace precipitate the change in Ray—events that threaten not only his financial stability but the core of who he is. Even Ray’s teenage daughters experience significant change, as they are forced to think about issues of life and death.
Carl Jung says: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” Jung goes on to describe the afternoon of life as the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life moving toward a life journey that has real meaning. I also like the following quote: In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul. Follow the link below for an interesting interview on the subject with Dr. Wayne Dyer: https://www.positivelypositive.com/2013/06/28/the-afternoon-of-your-life/
No Time to Read! In Today’s Shifting Landscape: Why Bother With Books? For the Young & Young at Heart
Technology has turned the world upside down. I used to believe that when I got older, I would be wiser and more knowledgeable and the young might even turn to me for guidance. Instead, the older I get, the harder it is to keep up with the advances. I have to look to my children for help. “What is Snapchat?” I ask; or “How do you share a picture from Instagram to Facebook?”
A friend of mine told me that when she got her cable installed for her television, she wanted to block certain channels from viewing by her kids. She couldn’t figure out how to do it, so what did she do? She asked her kids to block the channels from themselves!
But do these technologically savvy youngsters read books for pleasure? Do they know who Louisa May Alcott was or what Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote? Have they read Emily Bronte or Mark Twain? And it is not just kids who bury their (our) noses too often in their computers or smart phones. I am not saying it’s all bad. But we only have so many hours in a lifetime. Whereas we once spent our leisure time reading books, I wonder how many of those hours are now spent scrolling through the latest posts on Facebook or Instagram or some other social medium.
It would be a tremendous shame if our youth ceased to read for entertainment, for enlightenment. I think the best books are not the ones that tell us how to think or behave, but the ones that leave us with questions. I recently read a post from a reader who said that Gone with the Wind disturbed her for a long time because of its ending. I thought back to the first time I read it. I stumbled across the novel on the shelves of our local library and, believe it or not, I had never heard of it. I was engrossed. And, yes, I too was disturbed by the ending. But would we have remembered it as well or as long if Scarlett had fallen into Rhett’s arms in the finale? Instead, we have to wonder if she’s getting what she deserves, and to question what will happen tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.
Books open doors in a way that nothing else can. They allow us to draw our own pictures of the setting and characters, rather than relying on the director or actors as in a movie. They expand our vocabulary, not because we look words up in the dictionary but because we learn from context as we encounter those same words again and again. When you are engaged in the story, you probably don’t want to take time to look words up even on your smart phone. And, honestly, you don’t need to!
Many of my favorite books can be categorized as young adult or even children’s books. But when I was in those age groups, I remember reading and cherishing many adult novels. Don’t limit yourselves to one genre or one reading level, or you might miss some true treasures.
Finally, I still believe we can learn a lot from our elders. Several years ago I had two women in a college class I was teaching who were mother and daughter. Both led busy lives. By the end of the course it became clear that the mother would earn one of the highest grades in the class, while the daughter was likely to fail. The mother confided to me that she had learned to snatch every available moment—while baking something in the oven, while drying a load of laundry, etc.—to read a paragraph or two of her text. I don’t know if her daughter ever learned that lesson, but it has certainly stayed with me over the years. If I have a longish drive or an appointment—hair salon, dentist, doctor’s office, whatever—you’ll rarely catch me without a book or an audio book!
Besides the Bible, can you name a book that has made a difference in your life?
Last week at the library I found a novel I hadn’t read by one of my favorite feel-good authors: Maeve Binchy. I thought I’d read all of hers; and since she passed away, there would be no more new ones. Perhaps I’d read this one, I thought, and simply forgotten that I had. But as I began to read and discovered I had not, my delight reminded me of my pleasure as a child when a new Nancy Drew book landed on a shelf in the local bookstore. One of the things I appreciate about Maeve Binchy is the way, like Jan Karon and William Faulkner, she creates a community and brings its residents to vivid life.
As I outgrew Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew, I turned to Beany Malone books and Betsy-Tacy books. Along the way I fell in love with The Secret Garden, Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird and everything Louisa May Alcott wrote.
I cannot remember how old I was when I read The Caine Mutiny (maybe 8th grade) and Herman Wouk became my favorite author. The Caine Mutiny fascinated me with Wouk’s portrayal of real, flawed but likable characters, each with his own manner of speaking. There were no beautiful heroines or handsome heroes, no good guys or bad guys. You could recognize a character by his dialogue even if Wouk didn’t identify him. Wow! I also marveled at the variability of Wouk’s work: Marjorie Morningstar, Herbie Bookbinder, and Winds of War, to name a few. I have other favorites whose novels are far more similar to one another, and thus readily identified with their creator, than those of Wouk. Maeve Binchy falls into this category, as does Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, and even F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Caine Mutiny was my favorite novel of all time until I encountered Crime and Punishment as required reading in 9th grade. Thus began my love affair with Russian authors: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak and Chekhov. From the Russian novels, I discovered that “not being able to put it down” was not the highest praise, in my opinion, for a book. It took me the best part of an entire summer to finish Dr. Zhivago, and I treasured it!
In college, I met my husband, and we both read Henry James. I loved his writing, while my husband thought The American was one of the worst books ever written. I read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby in college too, all of which I still cherish and he doesn’t.
I have so many favorites I’m bound to leave out many. I’m going to tackle them in broad, loose categories of my own design. Being southern myself, I’m drawn to southern writers and settings: To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, the stories and novels of William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, William Gay, Larry Brown, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Donna Tartt, Lee Smith and Alice Walker.
Some of the writers I admire are so far above my talent and ability, I don’t claim them even as influences, though perhaps they are at a subconscious level. Among my favorites are authors that I think of as more commercially successful but still incredibly talented and often lauded. These include: Anita Shreve (my daughter once told me that her writing reminded her of mine, and I was thrilled), Toni Morrison, Daphne du Maurier, Richard Russo, Margaret Atwood (she defies categorization), Anne Tyler, Ian McEwan, Barbara Kingsolver, Wally Lamb, Jeffery Eugenides, Elizabeth Berg. Some of my favorites focus on particular ethnicities. These include: Lisa See, Amy Tan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Khaled Hosseini.
From time to time I like to read some variation of science fiction/fantasy, particularly Margaret Atwood (she’s worth mentioning again), Madelaine l ’Engle, C. S. Lewis (although I much prefer his non-fiction), Isaac Asimov and Nevil Shute. And should I admit it? I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games.
Finally I’ve always had a fondness for coming-of-age novels, and I discovered the Anne of Green Gables series (and Emily of New Moon) as an adult. Last year I visited L. M. Montgomery’s home in Prince Edward Island to see for myself the landscapes she described so beautifully.
I may not always tell you, but I hope you always know.
I love the way:
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24
I was brought up in the church, and some of my earliest memories are of the little country church I attended as a small child with my parents and grandparents. I remember wondering if Jesus was present in the flesh behind the painting of him that stood above the baptistery. So you might think that my journey to faith would have been an uneventful one. This is not the case.
When I was eight, two of my friends and I went down the aisle to confess Christ during a revival meeting. I was baptized at that time. However, by the age of twelve, I had my first crisis of faith.
Both of my grandfathers had died by then, in their early sixties, leaving our family truncated. I didn’t understand why, and I couldn’t seem to resist wondering and asking. I saw others who suffered loss and seemed to accept it as God’s will without being troubled by doubts and questions. Why couldn’t I?
My paternal grandmother had a difficult time herself, and suffered a nervous breakdown when my grandfather became ill. This same grandmother had a strong faith, however, and eventually pulled through onto more solid footing. She was a big admirer of Billy Graham. I wrote Mr. Graham a letter expressing my own doubts, which I couldn’t find the courage to express in my church. That letter lay unmailed in the top drawer of my dresser for many years.
In college I studied pre-medicine for the first three years before changing majors. There I met my husband, who was studying wildlife biology though he switched to pre-veterinary medicine. He had his own struggles with faith, having a brother who was severely damaged by forceps at birth, resulting in cerebral palsy.
This brother-in-law, Terry, who died this year, could not feed himself, speak, or control his bladder or muscles. My husband always said he was probably the smartest one in the family. Yet, at his funeral, I realized that many people believed him to be mentally retarded, which was far from the truth. It had always pained me to see Terry strive to communicate using the best sounds and facial expressions at his disposal, knowing how frustrating it must be for him; and it pained me even more to think how often he’d been misunderstood over the course of his life on this earth. I could only imagine how hard it was for my husband.
By the time my husband was in veterinary school, my faith was weak. I went to church, but I struggled to believe. I was troubled by things I heard in the pulpit as well as things I read in scripture. I wondered how God could punish people in societies where they had never heard of Christ. I wondered how God could smile upon some denominations, as these early ministers seemed to believe, and deny others access to the pearly gates. I wondered why believing was so important to God, and why belief was so easy for some and so troublesome for me.
I initiated a conversation with the minister at my church in Columbus, Ohio, telling him my doubts. I longed for him to convince me, to help me, to work with me. But he never followed up on that conversation.
We moved to Indiana, and I sought the help of a minister there. He told me that there were other reasons for attending church besides faith—that many people attended church for social or business reasons. I did not want to attend church for those reasons. I wanted to believe!
While we were in Indiana, I experienced the miracle of childbirth. I was enchanted by the perfection of my daughter, and I felt closer to my creator (and hers) than I had in a long time. Before her first birthday, we moved back home to Kentucky. She and I began to attend a small country church, and the congregation, minister, and elders there were warm and welcoming.
When I was pregnant with our second child, we moved again, this time to Clarksville, Tennessee. The church I joined here, of which I’m still a member, had two ministers at this time, both named Mike: Mike Anglin (pulpit minister) and Mike Moore (education minister).
I learned a lot from both of these wonderful men. I learned that faith is not equivalent to belief, that faith is an active concept. I began to realize that I had been seeking God all my life and that, so long as I did not give up on Him, He would not give up on me. When Mike left, our current minister came to our congregation. I’ve learned a lot over the years from Geoffrey Sikes also. One of the messages I’ve heard him say repeatedly is that when it comes to the difficult questions that have troubled me so often, God will decide and God makes no mistakes.
With my four-year-old daughter and baby son in tow, I confessed Christ again on a weekday. Mike Anglin listened to my confession, and baptized me into Christ for the second time. God has blessed me richly, and I pray almost daily for him to strengthen my faith. I pray that I can understand the things I need to understand, and accept the things I cannot. He is so patient with me, and he keeps answering my prayers, though not always in the way I’m hoping for and not always as quickly as I’d like. But I believe He knows better than I do what I truly need, and when and how to meet those needs.
Narrative Nonfiction about Two Special Guys
by Debra Coleman Jeter
Since I published The Ticket in May 2015, I’ve had several people who discovered my earlier book, “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor. Interestingly, the feedback I’ve received recently about “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor has been at least as enthusiastic (and maybe even more) than that about The Ticket.
For those of you familiar with Catherine Marshall’s novel Christy or with the two-season CBS television series based on that novel, “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor should feel like an old friend. For those of you not familiar with Christy, consider “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor an introduction to something you are bound to love.
I remember the day my son Clay was invited to audition for a television show called Christy. I did not make the connection, though I had read Christy years earlier. Then he was invited for a call-back in Townsend, Tennessee. It was there we first realized Kellie Martin (star of Life Goes On) had been cast as Christy; she was there that day, and Clay recognized her. Then I had a chance to read a section of the script, and I recognized the story, to my delight.
If you haven’t read Christy, you should. It is simply wonderful. If you love it, or if you are interested in true tales about child actors (my son Clay), or about growing up during the Great Depression (my dad Cliff Coleman), I suspect you’ll love “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor. You can buy it on Amazon in paperback, hardback, or Kindle. It is also available through Barnes & Noble in their Nook format. To learn more, check out my webpage at www.DebraColemanJeter.com. I would love to hear your reaction, and /or see your review on Amazon or Goodreads.
For those of you who have already read “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor and shared your reaction, you have made my day more than once. To everyone reading my blog: Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke so often in parables? It occurred to me recently that it’s a lot like the advice writers hear about how important it is to show rather than tell. Long before computers and copiers, or even printing presses, people told stories to draw their audience in. Jesus was a master at this. In most of his parables, we identify with a character, whether it’s the prodigal son or his elder brother (Luke 15: 11-32), the bridesmaids who run out of oil or the ones who don’t (Matthew 25: 1-13).
In my family, we would often discuss a sermon after leaving the church building. Sometimes your mind goes blank for a few minutes and you think, “What was that about today?” Often the thing that brings it back is a story or a joke the preacher shared to make a point. The stories tend to stick with us longer than the rest, and they bring home the message behind the story.
Another parallel that I’ve discovered between God’s plan and pointers for helping writers has to do with secrets being kept until the proper time. The best writers are so good at knowing how long to withhold a piece of information until just the right moment to maximize its impact.
There are times in our lives when we cannot help questioning why God allows the struggles, the pain, the suffering we see around us and sometimes experience ourselves. Occasionally we hear a story from someone who found Christ only after hitting rock bottom, and we think, “Aha! I see why God did that.”
But so often we simply cannot see the reason behind the things that happen in this world. If we compare our lives to a novel, the comparison falls flat. For one thing, as human beings, we are far more complex and full of contradictions than any of the characters in our favorite works of fiction. For another, we do not see the whole picture; the last chapters are not written in this lifetime. The author who created us is infinitely wiser, infinitely more compassionate but also infinitely more mysterious than our favorite novelist.
In Matthew 13: 10-11, the disciples asked Jesus pointblank, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
Jesus told them, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
As a reader, I love the books that make me think, not just while I’m reading them but long after I finish them. I’m okay with a few things left for me to interpret as I choose, rather than having every single detail spelled out to remove all doubt. I know this style isn’t for everyone, but I love it when I can debate a character’s good and bad qualities with another reader, even if (or especially if) the other reader sees things I missed and vice versa.
But in my life and those of my loved ones, I long for perfect clarity. I want to understand completely; and when I cannot, my faith sometimes falters.
We read in Matthew 13: 13-14, that Jesus’ use of parables fulfilled Old Testament prophecy: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” I can’t claim to understand God’s plan fully, but I take comfort in what is probably my favorite scripture, 1st Corinthians 13: 12-13: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We all know the Golden Rule (Matthew 7: 12). But sometimes I wonder if we interpret it too literally. I’ve become convinced over the years that what Christ intended was for us to do unto others as they would have us to do. Most of the time, this is equivalent to doing to others as we would have them do unto us. But occasionally it’s different.
For example, there are some of us who love surprises and others who do not. Just because we are among those who love surprises doesn’t mean we should plan a surprise party for a spouse who has told us sincerely and repeatedly that he doesn’t want one, or that he hates having that sort of fuss. Now you may know your spouse well enough to know that he would love such a party deep down despite his protests. But I’m pretty sure mine would not (he says there should no “pretty” about it).
As another example, my husband thinks the “heel” of the bread is an inferior slice, and so he avoids it if making me a sandwich. In truth I prefer that slice, but I know he’s doing me an intended kindness by avoiding it. When my husband is ill, he likes to go to bed and be left alone. I like to have someone look after me when I’m sick, but that was harder initially for him to understand since he would not. To some extent, we become set in our ways as we grow older. But, with the Lord’s help and a lot of will and work, we can change and improve in our other-centeredness as we age.
If you prefer to have lots of friends about you to commemorate important occasions while your loved one prefers only the immediate family, you may want to refrain from inviting “extras” when it’s his or her celebration. If you prefer to receive gift cards for Christmas but your sister prefers gaily wrapped packages, you probably shouldn’t give her a gift card. If you prefer board games but your husband calls them “boring” games as mine does, it may not be wise to assume he’s really itching for a game of scrabble.
If no one but you can make your coffee or tea quite right, keep in mind that others might enjoy being waited on occasionally (even if there’s slightly too much or too little cream).
A lot of these examples are pretty trivial, but trying to become familiar with the preferences of your loved ones can help make you a better friend and family member. After all, isn’t that what you would have them do unto you?
In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” As a reader, I sometimes wonder why I can’t see more of the characters I’ve grown to love after the end of the book when the conflict has been more or less resolved. But I also know that conflict is what keeps me turning the pages.
I grew up in a family that wasn’t all smiles and compliments. We had our share of laughter but also our share of tears. If my mom found fault with me, my sister, or my father, I know now that she did so out of a desire to make us the best people we could be. But at the time, each of us responded in our own way, whether it was tears and hurt feelings (my sister), anger (my dad), or rebellion and “acting out” (me).
Perhaps every family thinks theirs is unique in some ways. I know I do. Though far less unusual or removed from the norm than Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle), I see boundless opportunities for writing inspired by my loving crew. Yes, mistakes were made (I’ve certainly made my share over the years), but love was bountiful. Figuring out what makes people tick is generally what my stories are about.
As I look back, back, back—beyond my parents (and their generation), to their parents (and theirs), I see certain patterns. In my mom’s family, I see strong-willed women who made their voices and their opinions heard, who often ruled their households or at least managed to mold them to their liking. Most of the men went along, found jobs that took them away from the house for stretches of time, or created man-caves in the basement for themselves.
In my father’s family, the men were the strong ones. The women were gentler, more compliant, relinquishing their own desires in favor of those of their husbands. My paternal grandparents, for instance, grew up in a farm community in western Kentucky. When times got tough financially, a lot of their contemporaries went to Detroit to look for work in the factories. My grandparents were no exception. My paternal grandfather was smart and hard-working, and he moved up the ladder quickly. My grandmother loved the social atmosphere of being surrounded by lots of talkative, friendly women her own age on a daily basis. She would have loved to stay in Detroit permanently, but my grandfather wanted nothing more than to return to the life he loved on the farm as soon as they had saved enough money. So return they did, and my grandmother devoted herself without complaint to the life of a farmer’s wife: cooking, cleaning, canning, freezing, gardening, sewing. A good life but a solitary one in many respects. When my parents came together—my dad from a background where men carved out the lives they wanted and the women went along; my mom from the exact opposite—is it any wonder that the wills often clashed?
As a writer, I find an abundance of material in their stories. In the first book I published (nonfiction, Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson) I delved into my father’s childhood. Readers told me they wanted more, so that is still on my agenda. But I’m currently working on the stories from my mother’s family.
One of her cousins tells me he has traced our roots right back to Catherine the Great of Russia, who was German (my maternal grandmother was a Shultz). This resonates with me because I’ve always sensed a certain grandness, almost a feeling of royal birth or entitlement, in this side of the family despite their humble roots in the tiny farm community of Bell City, Kentucky. Catherine was a strong-willed woman married to a weak man, and she accomplished amazing things, leading Russia to unprecedented heights in art and literature, as well as economically. I see hints of this in my grandmother and her four sisters, though none has risen so high in ways visible to the world. Yet, within their families and their communities, the stories of these strong women are just as compelling, and I look forward to putting them on paper.
Another theme—or perhaps it is really a variant of the same one—is how each of us is largely a product of what came before us. We often see in ourselves things we don’t like that are reflections of the very things we willed not to imitate. But there are reflections also of the good things. My maternal grandfather had enormous capacity for love. Although he died (pancreatic cancer) when I was quite young, I have vivid memories of the love he lavished on me. My dad married into this family when he was only eighteen, and I see in him the same devotion to family. I think he learned this, at least in part, from his father-in-law. This tremendous capacity for love and devotion to others is not just in our genes—it’s also learned from our environment.
There are lessons about devotion I’ve learned (and hope to incorporate into my life) from my husband’s family. His brother Terry (who passed away recently at the age of 59) was damaged at birth by forceps being applied by an inept country doctor. As a result of the very difficult birth, he had a severe case of cerebral palsy. This means his brain was damaged in a way that made it impossible for him to control his muscles (he couldn’t feed himself, talk or do anything physically to take care himself), but his mind was untouched (my husband always claimed he was probably the smartest one in the family). Whereas some families might have sent him to an institution, my father-in-law cherished him his entire life. When he could no longer lift Terry to change his diapers (my father-in-law lived to be 94), he reluctantly put him in a nursing home. But he visited him three times each day (and then later twice) to feed Terry his meals, sit with him, and make sure the staff were treating his beloved son with respect and kindness.
Some of my earliest memories are of the little country church I attended with my parents and grandparents. My grandmother was one of nine children in a little farm community in western Kentucky called Bell City. When she was growing up, there was no church nearby so they went to tent revival meetings whenever they came to town. Later, her brother and a friend who ran an orphanage in Bell City built the church I attended as a small child. I remember going on Easter egg hunts with the kids from the orphan’s home and being grateful I had parents and grandparents who loved me.
My mother struggled with bipolar disease when she was younger, and the disease affected my sister, my dad and me. In my novel, The Ticket, one of the characters has this condition, and the repercussions are devastating. I’m so thankful that, with prayer and treatment, my mother’s condition has been controlled for many years, and that nothing so extreme has befallen us. Although she can be difficult at times—and has often tried my dad’s patience almost to the breaking point—she is also the one in our family who is the quickest to laugh and to forgive; and I’ve never doubted how much she loves us.
Why I Love to Storyboard
by Debra Coleman Jeter
I used to write in spurts, and I’d be untruthful if I claimed to be completely changed in this regard. But I have discovered a technique that helps keep me on task, even during those draggy days when I don’t feel remotely inspired.
Every day I try to write, at a minimum, either: 3 storyboards or one scene. The storyboard can take a lot of different forms. The one I use consists of:
Brief overview of scene
Senses: sound, smell, etc
Relationships of characters appearing in scene
Dialogue (I scribble a few lines here and sometimes the scene takes off at this point)
Point of view
Final image and/or last line
I print out several copies of my storyboard headings (followed by a couple of blank lines after each), and I may stare at one for some time before I write a thing. Eventually, though, I begin to fill in the blanks. I tell myself it doesn’t matter what I write as it is just a storyboard. Often I get going and turn the page over to scribble more ideas for the scene on the back.
The following day I select one of the storyboards and instruct myself to write at least five pages. Since I’ve already put a fair amount of thought into it the day before—I have my storyboard in front of me—the scene often seems to write itself once I get going.
I don’t always fill in every blank on my storyboard. I often scribble other ideas that don’t really fit the storyboard. For instance, if an idea for the opening line comes to me, I jot that down. If this line leads to a complete paragraph, even better! In some ways writing a storyboard is like writing a story. I let the words take me where they want to go. The main purpose of the framework is simply to get myself thinking and get my pen moving. Some writers may not need this tool, but I’ve found that it helps me immeasurably.
For some works—whether short or long—I use outlines but not always. When I do, the outline may be very detailed or quite brief. Some storylines seem to lend themselves better to outlining while others take more of a free form path in my mind and on paper. Yet somehow I keep coming back to storyboarding, regardless of whether I’m working with or without an outline.
I don’t always heed the words on the storyboard, however. Sometimes I find that I’ve written an entire scene without reference to any of the senses. When this happens, I usually push forward if I’m working on a first draft. Later, in the editing process, I may come back to take a second look at the storyboard for a scene to see what I had in mind. I even use a code on occasion for each page of the manuscript, some variation of the things I need to keep in mind as I edit. For example, I may use A for actions, I for imagery, AV for active verb, V for visuals, SM for smells, SO for sounds, etc. Of course I don’t need all of these on every page, but it helps me avoid going for long stretches without actions or sensory details. I don’t want my writing to drag and bore my readers. Glancing back over what I’ve just written, I may be at risk of boring you so I’ll stop!
Never, never give up—and happy storyboarding!