Student creates cards, offers solution for writers block

Kelly Hurla,Washburn Review

Writing, cinematography, editing, sound, photography and a bit of advertising aren’t all the skills that Jeri Fowler loves to work with.

When she’s not busy with “school, school and more school,” as she’ll tell anybody, she’s working on promoting a product that’s been in the works for the last five to six years.

Writer’s StoryBoards are a deck of cards designed and developed by Fowler to help writers overcome writers block and assist with character development.

“They’re really interesting,” said Matt Quick, junior mass media major. “I have a theater background and for me, I thought they could be used more as an improvisation tool for improvisational comedy or improvisational scenes for actors because you can pull a character and make up an entire story.”

Quick would recommend the cards for teachers in the acting department to use a warm up tool, for writers looking to develop a story or for anyone looking to generate ideas or content in general.

“They’re really fantastic cards,” said Quick. “I didn’t really understand how to use them at first but then she [Jeri] explained to me that there really are no rules for these cards.”

The Writer’s StoryBoards weren’t originally created for a profit, or even for others. Fowler came up with the idea for the cards by accident, early on in her writing. Fowler enjoyed writing and creating stories, but also had a passion for movies. After buying a number of books on screen writing, Fowler fell in love with the writing, but often found some of her stories lacked conflict or sagged in the middle.

“I just wanted something where I could draw a card and randomly have some ideas to throw at my characters,” said Fowler. “I looked for a product that would do that. I didn’t need a new story, I needed something that would fit into this story. I did them because I needed them.”

The StoryBoards originally started as a list that kept going and going. After evolving from that, Fowler came up with the current beta model. An anonymous professor assists Fowler by using the cards with two of his screen writing classes at a nearby university. The intro class utilized the cards more than the advanced, leading Fowler to believe that the more advanced a student is in screen writing, the less likely they may be to utilize the cards.

Fowler was originally an integrated studies student, only switching majors to mass media recently. Fowler’s new emphasis is film and video, although she enjoys just about every aspect of it.

“I was going to integrate film, advertising, web development and photography all together and it was hard to schedule all of those departments,” said Fowler.

After switching from being an integrated studies major, Fowler is happy with her switch to mass media.

“I enjoy every aspect of it. I haven’t found my niche yet and I don’t know which one of those areas I really excel in,” said Fowler. “I don’t know where my future is, but I like the fact that I’m getting my feet wet in all of those different areas. At this point, I’d be happy doing any of it or all of it.”

Right now Fowler is spending a lot of energy on her Kick Starter campaign for the Writer’s StoryBoards. The campaign launched Monday, April 1 and will last 30 days. The goal is to reach $12,000.

At several monetary increments, ranging from $1 up to $1,000, those that pledge will receive a form of compensation. A deck of updated cards, up to several decks, T-shirts and lastly even a story written with you as the hero, by Fowler. All levels receive a heart felt thanks from Fowler.

“I’m a terrible writer,” said Fowler, jokingly.

Fowler goes on to say that she enjoys the challenge of screen writing because every word has to do its purpose and how structured the art of overall screen writing is.

Although, Fowler speaks modestly about herself and her writing, it’s hard to argue that she’s not a hard worker. In the current semester, Fowler is taking a majority of courses in her major, including digital filmmaking II, digital cinematography as well as cinematic storytelling.

As far as future plans, Fowler has a second deck of Writer’s StoryBoards in the making. As the current deck mainly focuses on internal conflicts and plot development, the second deck will mainly focus on internal conflicts and character development.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, the campaign had 17 backers and $665 pledged.

Whatever use a writer, actor or entrepreneur may have with the cards, their use is apparent in a variety of ways.

“I pull all these cards out and the story pretty much writes itself,” said Quick.