Monday, January 26, 2015

Storyboard Solution

In the interest of full disclosure, today's (exceptionally long, but it's mostly pictures!) post concerning my storyboard obsession WILL CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS about Second Nature. I don't know if anyone reading this post will care at all about said spoilers, but I thought it should be said, just in case. If you are, perhaps, concerned about spoilers, maybe don't scrutinize any of the pictures in any great detail.

One evening, many, many moons ago, The Man came home after a long day at the office to find that I had turned our dining room into a massive storyboard. All three walls were covered with the plot of Part Two of Second Nature, all scribbled onto color-coded index cards and post-it notes with clever headings such as "James Does Something" or "Cate On A Boat."

It looked like this:



"Terrific," The Man said first. Then later, he added, "That reminds me of Trello."

"I don't know what Trello is, but it sounds like orc mischief to me," I replied, never being one to waste an opportunity to make an obscure Lord of the Rings reference.

The Man took this as an invitation to explain to me what Trello was. Granted, I wasn't paying the closest attention in the world because the explanation started off as Trello being some online way to organize and manage projects. He was using it at his office (The Man is a software developer) for some purpose, and all I heard was, "it's a new-fangled thing designed to eliminate paper and pens."

I love paper and pens. I love index cards and post-it notes. While I tolerate it to some small extent, I do not love technology. I do not love change. I do not even like change, and getting me to change how I do something is akin to pulling teeth, or lifting Mjölnir if one is not Thor.

On an unrelated note, how excited is everyone for this movie?

It's pretty damn near impossible.

"Are you telling me I have to take the storyboard down?" I asked afterward because, again, I hadn't really been listening.

"No, of course not," The Man answered wisely.

But I went to Trello and played around with it, mostly to appease The Man who thought (perhaps rightfully) that I never listened to anything he said, but I never had any actual intention of using it because I had a big, beautiful board on the dining room walls.

Fast forward a few months to the day the realtor insisted that I take down the big, beautiful storyboard because it was too personal an item and would turn off perspective buyers (Note: I hate perspective buyers. They are whiny and annoying, and if I didn't need one of them to buy my house, there would be no reason not to run them through with my broad sword).

That was the day I turned completely to Trello. Well, after I'd finished throwing my very understandable tantrum.

On Trello, you create boards that can serve any purpose. I have boards for Effigy and Second Nature on which I keep track of whatever needs to be done for that particular project (i.e, complete editing for a specific chapter, or touch base with betas, or email the cover artist, or find a cover artist...whatever). In addition, I have storyboards for Parts Two and Three (Lineage and Reckoning, respectively) of Second Nature. My main Trello screen now looks like this:


A WIP board looks something like this:


With this detail inside of it:



And if you looked at the Lineage board—the true storyboard in all of this—here's what you'd see:


Which, I have to admit, does share a strong resemblance to the board with which I started. Each list contains the scenes that should be in that chapter. Find out that you need to move a scene to a new chapter? It's just click and drag. Need to reorder the scenes in a chapter? Just click and drag. Realize you need to add a new scene to the chapter? Just click on "Add a card." Need to add a whole new chapter? Just click on "Add a list." (You can't see that in the above picture, but it's there. Trust me. Look again at the Second Nature board two pictures up and you'll see it.)

It's easy. Really easy. (Unlike me obtaining these screen shots. I've had to ask The Man for an embarrassing amount of help with that.)

And the functionality doesn't end there, folks. Within each card, you can do multiple things. For example:


While I have used the Due Date option, I personally love to use the label function. On my dining room storyboard, a pink post-it meant the scene was incomplete. Other color post-its meant things like, "This might need to move" or "Maybe just delete entirely." Trello allows you to do something similar, and customize the labels to whatever you want them to be:


So you can see that that particular scene in Chapter 29 hasn't been finished yet, and I think I might need to move it to a different point in the chapter or the book.

You can also leave yourself notes or comments:


You can create as many boards as you want. You can make as many notes about all of the cards on those boards as you'd like. You can upload pictures of characters or locations or maps or cover art or dogs playing poker. You can also share boards with other people (great for collabs!) and keep other boards private. You can use Trello on your desktop computer, or your laptop, or your tablet. They have apps available for iPhone and iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and Windows 8. (probably other things, too) I recently installed Trello on my iPad, and I have actually used it on that device.

You can do all of these things without an excess of wall space, or scotch tape, or killing trees, or getting high on marker fumes (Not that I have ever done that..).

And it's free. Let me say that again: It's FREE. (Which leaves you more money for more markers. You know, the good kind that smells like cherries and grapes...Not that I have ever done that, either...)

Yes, there is a pay edition ("Trello Gold") that, for $45 per year, will give the user more functionality and fun, according to the website, but I don't know anything about that edition. All I know is that the free edition has more than suited my purposes—so much so that I've almost gotten to the point where I could almost consider forgiving the realtor for making me take down the paper version. (Sorry, realtor lady. I like grudges just about as much as I like paper.)

It's a nifty tool, and I have to give The Man props. He was right about this. It has helped me out immensely (and maybe it could help you out, too.).

Just...don't tell him I said so.

57 comments:

  1. Trello seems cool and all, but most dining rooms seem to be underutilised!

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    1. I know mine sure was. And will be again once we move.

      Delete
  2. Are you a marker sniffer?
    Wow, now that is detailed. I still think I would confuse myself.

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    1. What? Who said anything about sniffing markers?

      The scary thing about Trello is that I barely scratched the surface on all the things it can do.

      Delete
  3. I'm still kind of old school re paper and markers and white boards etc. - they're what I'm using now for the WiP - but I have given Scrivener a try and liked it overall, especially the note card feature.

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    1. I'm very old school. This was a forced move toward technology. I hope to revert back to my more primitive state once I get settled in a new home. =)

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  4. Trello looks so cool! Although I think if I had the space to do it, I'd be writing on the walls instead.

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    1. Same here. I miss writing on the walls.

      Delete
  5. Oh wow, it's free? I need to snag it.

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  6. I'm old and I'm keeping my post it notes on the wall. I would forget something stored in a computer program.

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    1. Yeah, it took me a while to remember I had the Trello account. I'm obviously doing better now.

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  7. So, the realtor thinks that a perspective buyer would assume they need their own storyboard if they moved in? Perspective buyers have no imagination.

    It looks like a cool programme, but I would definitely prefer paper and pens, if - you know - I ever planned something!

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    1. I was all, "Can't you just reassure them that the storyboard will go wherever I go?"

      She said no.

      Delete
    2. Perhaps you could replace it with posters of Effigy, and the Amazon link - even if they don't buy your house, you might make some book sales :-)

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    3. It's really the least they could do after wasting my afternoons.

      Delete
  8. That looks pretty cool! Now if only my mind worked in chapters. >_< I've had to settle for a single document with color coded scenes set out in a linear fashion. I might have to start out in one giant chapter.

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    1. This is the only book I've planned out this much. I wonder if I'll do it with other projects later on.

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  9. I love pens and paper too, but I may have to try Trello sometime.

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  10. Trello sounds awesome. It seems like everyone that I know is intimate with a software developer. It's so weird. Software developers are everywhere all of a sudden.

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  11. I've never heard of Trello before. Really cool! Except that I am so unorganized I'm sure I would end up having a panic attack over trying to use it LOL. I always start out with the best intentions to get organized and then everything falls apart. Thanks for sharing about this!

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    1. It's really very easy to use. I just started playing around with it, not really having a clue what to do or how to do it, but I worked it out. And if I can, you definitely could.

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  12. Now that's organized! Up until now I've used Word docs to do this. Guess I need to become a bit more sophisticated.

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    1. It never occurred to me to use Word docs. I've only ever just used it as a word processor. And I hope I never have to change that.

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  13. Very interesting. My initial reaction would be like yours. But I like post it notes! But I may have to check this out. :)

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    1. I love post-it notes. Now my dining room is just sitting there, all empty and without purpose. Trello's useful and all, but what am I supposed to do with my dining room?

      Delete
  14. Trello sounds really useful. Not to mention one would be saving paper, therefore trees. :) still, I often get very confused and frustrated with software. I will try it, though, when occasion arises.

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    1. I often get confused and frustrated with software (seriously...you should have seen me trying to get those screenshots!), but Trello has been rather frustration-free.

      Delete
  15. Very cool. I'll have to check that out. It seems like the sort of thing I'd enjoy as I prefer to have this all on the computer.

    Oh, the other day I saw a link to an article on how to make your own firing thing to make your own mini sword, and I thought of you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh yes, that is most definitely an article I'd like to read. And study.

      Delete
    2. It talks about melting soda cans, but you have to turn them into something:

      http://lifehacker.com/make-a-mini-foundry-for-cheap-that-can-melt-soda-cans-1680040014

      Delete
  16. I love Trello (use it for a collaborative writing project) but I have to say I have 2 unused rooms and what I really want to do is stick-note all the walls. Actually, I just want the walls to be made out of whiteboards, but I looked into how much that would cost, and it'd make ya cry, it really would.

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    1. A room made entirely out of whiteboard would be all kinds of awesome.

      And really, if the realtor helping us to find a new house is smart, she'll just saying things like, "And over here, you'll see the storyboard room."

      Sold.

      Delete
    2. I didn't see the point of a dining room. My house doesn't have one. It does however have 3 bedrooms, one of which I've designated for an office and plan to keep one wall picture-less for storyboarding purposes.

      Delete
  17. Thank you for sharing this awesome new program and tips. You are very organized. I used to plan my chapters too and somewhere something snapped and I turned into a complete pantser. Wising you all the best with getting your house sold and the rewrites.

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    1. If you saw the rest of my life, you wouldn't think I was at all organized.

      I used to be a complete pantser, then morphed into a plotter. At least for this project. I can't imagine any other project being this planned out.

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  18. Wow. Free organization. That is really awesome. Will it come do my housework too?

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    1. I asked The Man. He said probably not. But maybe with the Trello Gold service?

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  19. This is awesome. I don't like the idea of replacing my notebooks and pens either. Your dining room wall story board looks nifty and well organized.

    Everyone gets sucked into technology eventually though. Welcome to the crowd :)

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    1. Noooooo! I don't want to be sucked into technology!

      Delete
  20. Markers have grape and cherry or whatever smell? And how would you know this? Oh wait, you've never done this. ;-)

    Actually. Trello sounds like a good thing. I've had lots of suggestions on various programs and none of them fit me quite well. Now, this, looks like it could. I'll be the first to tell you that I don't orgainze quite to the degree you do but this could be stretched to fit my style. Hmm, must check it out.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. I've read about markers on the internet. That's all. I swear.

      I think one of the great thing about Trello is how it can be customized to fit so many different projects and how a person can use as much or as little of it as they'd like. I'm sure I'm barely scratching the surface of what Trello can do.

      Delete
  21. Hello Trello! And thanks for the introduction!

    Real glad that something good came out of the storyboard being taken down. Now all you need are huge touch screens for each of the walls.

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    1. But I just accepted a small touch screen into my life. I don't think I can do huge ones. Yet.

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  22. Trello looks handy. Although I prefer taping up my walls... makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something when I step into the room ;)

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  23. I have a cork board I hang on my wall and stick note cards on. And then I have sticky notes all over my desk. I should look into this, because I don't have the wall or desk space for my growing pile of editing notes.

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    1. I do still have my cork board that's covered with maps and calendars and whatnot. I guess the realtor didn't wish to push her luck with that one.

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  24. Erg! Lost my stupid comment.
    Let me try again...

    So, are you telling me that you don't write your stories by the seat of your pants? I don't understand! :)

    This does sound pretty cool.

    And yes, I am looking forward to that movie!

    Heather

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    1. Most of my WIPs have been written by the seat of my pants. Just not this series. It's probably just a coincidence that it includes my only published novel.

      Delete
  25. Hi M. J.,
    I nominated you for a blogging award. Please stop by dhdunne.blogspot.com to find out more. Congratulations!

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  26. Ooo, that's really cool about Trello! I love that it can be used on tablets too. I'm signing up.

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  27. oh wow--I am such a pantser but I wish I could be this organized!

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  28. Oh I'm so trying this.... thanks for sharing!!! :)

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