Lesson Four- Description, Dialogue and Story Boarding

Concepts to be attained: Loose definitions of description and dialogue, how it’s used in storytelling.

Concepts that are important to expansion: the five senses, basic punctuation lesson

Materials needed:

  • For explorations – Examples of descriptions of characters or worlds, some visual examples for practice, an example of dialogue moving a story forward.
  • For expansions – paper and pen or computer, blank handouts for dialogue scene, and blank squares x 3 for story boarding their story.



  1. Engagement

The focus of this lesson is expanding the students’ world building, now that they have characters, setting and a basic conflict. Students can fill in their stories with more detail, in the form of descriptions using all five senses and dialogue between the characters.

The purpose of story boarding is to lay out their plot and make sure that they have enough material at the end of their draft in order to work with it for revision.


  1. Exploration

Students will write short scenes/examples using descriptive details and all five senses, as well as dialogue samples for their characters.

With the remaining time, they will fill in a story board outline for the beginning, middle and end of their stories with at least three scenes each, so they have a solid plot to work on while finishing their drafts over the holiday break.


  1. Explanation

A story is interesting to read if there’s some variation within the writing. It’s good to use both flowery, descriptive language and provide as much detail relevant to the world building as possible, but it’s also important to provide some variety in style, to avoid the risk of boring the reader with an information dump. Dialogue is great tool for this.


  1. Expansion

Students will be shown several images from East of West and I Kill GiantsAny graphic novel can be used. As a thought exercise they will describe the world they’re seeing using as much detail and as many senses as they can. They will be read an example or two of a good description of character or world building from any relevant source.

Next, they’ll be asked to take a journey through the world they’ve created, using a world building questions handout—a few of the best ones can be selected. They can take home the handout for reference, and places to add more detail, while they’re finishing their stories over the break.

Students will move on to dialogue, and after a brief discussion of what dialogue is and why it’s important students will have a chance to fill in the six frames of conversation between their two main characters. As an example, the “boring dialogue” handout from the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program workbook can be used. How much of the description the students just wrote can they convey in a dialogue between their characters, and still make it sound like a natural conversation?

Finally, with the remaining time, students will be given three blank story boarding sheets, and will be asked to fill in key points/scenes in their story from the beginning, middle and end. Remember the plot fish they filled in earlier. They should be able to extract three-four scenes per section from that. They can draw a picture and write a brief note to themselves for the scene.

The storyboard will give them a clear path toward their assignment of an 8-10 page story, double spaced, which should be drafted by the January meeting. The page number is important only in that it will give them enough material to work with when we talk about revision in the new year.


  1. Evaluation

Students will have a story board outlining their story by the end of the class. They will also have the handout with questions about their world for reference if they need more detail. From everything they’ve worked on over four lessons they should be able to finish drafting their story.