The Storyboards Of My Novel

Filed under: RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM — Administrator at 12:38 pm on Tuesday, June 8, 2021


These storyboards have been kicking around my office for 9 years now. I used them to structure my novel, Right Back Where We Started From. I’ve often considered throwing the boards out, but never did. For a long time it seemed like my book wasn’t going to be published, so the storyboards became the only physical evidence that the novel exists. (If you want to read why my book, which I finished in 2012, is coming out now in 2021, check out my essay in LitHub.)

Right Back Where We Started From is a multi-generational saga that weaves through time, starting in the California Gold Rush with stops in World War II San Francisco, 1906 Healdsburg, and 1930s Hollywood, among others. I used the storyboards to figure out the order of the chapters.

For each draft, I’d print a list of scenes, cut them out, lay them on the floor, and move them around until I had an order I thought might work. Then I’d tape them to the boards as a guide to edit the book. As I finished each scene, I gave myself a sticker, much the way a third-grade teacher would reward a student who did well on a test. Earning the sticker meant I could move on to the next scene. I did this over and over until it was no longer necessary to move the scenes around, and the structure was set.

Now that my book is out in the world, a physical object that I can look at, I don’t need the storyboards anymore. But I wanted to write a blog post about them anyway. They’re like old friends that offered support when I needed it the most.