Storyboarding for Historical Writing Research

As most of you already know, I love history. No, I mean, I really LOVE history. As a history teacher, I used to dress up in period clothing and bring in an array of costumes for my students to wear too. I didn’t have anything near as lovely as an original Frederick Worth gown, but how I would love to even once have the opportunity of wearing such a masterpiece. Yes, my students thought I was a little crazy, but I don’t believe in just sitting in a boring desk and reading about history; I wanted my students to live it, feel it, taste it–at least, as much as possible.

When I’m writing a historical manuscript, I sometimes don a costume and act out parts, wandering about the house or garden, talking to myself. Yep, it’s not something I’d admit to most people and now I’m posting this for the whole world to read. Oh, well, some of you ask how I “get into my characters” when I write, so there you have it. Most of the time, however, I storyboard and I often use Pinterest for my photo ideas. (The only problem with Pinterest is that I cannot organize photos into a specific order, although I have complained about their remedying this flaw.)

This brings me back to my storyboarding process. I recently completed a manuscript about a nearby town in 1893. Clothing, hairstyles, housing, modes of transportation, holiday celebrations, foods, furniture, jewelry, makeup, parties, entertainment, church, and many other aspects of everyday life in the 19th Century occupied my research time throughout the writing of that book.


I find photographs online for inspiration and study them while I’m writing descriptions of scenes or characters. Nicole Kidman’s facial features and hair were inspiration for my main character, Victoria Garrett. When I found this photo of her role in the film, Portrait of a Lady, her determined demeanor was the perfect look, not to mention the perfect era, for my main character. Other photos are from old reprints of 1890s catalogs, museum displays, and even advertisements for period clothing (often sold to film studios for making period films).

Wildwood Cafe, Etna Mills

The town of Etna, California was the setting for my story, so I drove through the town several times, taking photos. In order to accurately describe certain scenes, I did a lot of walking up and down, around, between, and inside the buildings to make sure I really got the feel for how far it would take my characters to walk or ride horses from one place to another.

I suppose I could add more, but you get the idea.

You can view my Pinterest site for my last completed manuscript at Maybe you can start Pinterest storyboarding too. But, if you know of another website that offers the storyboarding concept with the option of moving around and reorganizing photos, I would welcome your advice and suggestions.

Happy writing…..!

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