Sometimes I'm a contrarian and like to think things through backward. What about thinking first of a movie and then writing a novel about it?

Would it make sense to storyboard and script a novel before writing it? Do any authors use this as a work process?

  • I've heard of authors drawing up scenes to get into their heads what's happening (though watch out - the reader can't see the drawings, don't end up too light on descriptions).
    – MGOwen
    May 16, 2014 at 3:51

4 Answers 4


I once wrote a book as a long screenplay that I then turned into a book. The result? Fairly good dialogue, thin descriptive writing, weak prose overall. Not that this is inevitable but I found that once you've been through a story once as dialogue, scenes and sound cues it makes it a hell of a chore to go through again and turn it into a novel.

As for story boards, the whole point of these is to give an indication of shot composition and visual coherence to a visually oriented project, usually a film (but could be a sketch draft of a comic strip), that allows the creators to better make an integrated visual experience. The pictorial parts of a storyboard would really serve no useful purpose in the creation of a novel that was intended to be words on a page.


Scrivener contains a feature it calls "Corkboard," which sounds very much like your "Storyboard." It presents scenes as small 3x5 index cards with a synopsis on them, and you can rearrange them to your heart's content. It's a popular feature.

In answer to your question, it sounds like yes, this is something that is done with great frequency.

I use it myself.

  • I personally use the corkboard for my autobiographical memoir. It's very useful for me to have a 50,000 foot view of the book, seeing how the timeline unfolds. Makes it easy to insert stuff later on.
    – Josh
    Aug 28, 2014 at 17:40

It's important to consider the medium you should use when telling a story because each method has a unique advantage overs its counterparts. For instance, stories that are mostly about a character's interior evolution are best suited to novels because the written word lends itself to investigating a character's innermost thoughts. Films are able to provoke mood through the use of sound and imagery, lending itself to stories that are driven by the senses or by actions rather than a character's thoughts. In fact, films tend to fall flat when they attempt to include characters' thoughts.

Approaching your book like it's a movie may mean you'll miss out on the advantages of writing a book. Instead, you may focus on the elements that are ill-suited to novels, but are great for films.

Storyboarding scenes from a novel may be a good idea if you're writing a story that contains a lot of action or heavily relies on the characters' environments because you can then create a visual reference that includes characters' positions and movements. No more teleporting characters in the middle of scenes. Writing a script before diving into prose may be a good idea if you have difficulty getting through the first draft because it will give a layered approach to writing. Instead of struggling with all elements of prose at once, you tackle each piece one at a time, giving your story multiple passes to make it rich.

In the end, your process is personal, so whether or not others think it's a good idea, you should try it and see how it feels. Writing (and drawing) your story in another format may not be the most efficient way to write a story intended to be a novel, but if doing that gives you better insight into your story then your process isn't wrong.

Good luck!


I don't know about first writing, and then adapting a script or a storyboard, but I've seen some novelisations of movies - person A creates a successful movie; person B writes a book that 'legally plagiarizes' the movie plot (with proper license to do so).

Example: book Platoon by Dale A. Dye, based on movie Platoon by Oliver Stone.

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