Tuesday 21 April 2015

The Snowflake Method: How to Plan and Write a Novel

"Good fiction doesn't just happen, it is designed." (Randy Ingermanson)

Randy Ingermanson, author of six books, has a foolproof way to write a novel called the Snowflake Method.  You start small, with a basic triangle, and build it up using many interconnecting triangles. It's a way to manage your creativity, to keep your writing on track. Follow the steps at http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/.  Here is a synopsis of the Snowflake Method.

The steps of the Snowflake Method courtesy http://www.thesecretcode.co.uk/page_2461704.html.

Step 1

Take an hour and compose one sentence to summarize the story ex. "A rogue scientist travels back in time to kill apostle Paul."  Think of the big picture.  Your sentence should be short, no more than 15 words.  Do not mention any character's names in the sentence.  Tie together the big picture and the personal story.  Read one line blurbs from the New York Times bestseller list to get ideas.  You can use this sentence as your pitch when you try to publish your book.  This is the triangle step of your snowflake.

Step 2

Take an hour to expand your sentence to a paragraph.  It should be five sentences in length.  The first sentence describes your story's set up.  The next three sentences describe ensuing disasters and the last sentence summarizes the ending.  This paragraph can be used as your story proposal.  This is the second triangle step of your snowflake.

Step 3

Devote an hour to writing a one page summary of each character in your book which includes:

  • the character's name
  • the character's motivation
  • the character's goal
  • the character's conflict
Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be perfect.  Keep the forward momentum going.

Step 4

Take several hours and expand each sentence of the summary to a paragraph.  All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster.  

Step 5

Take a day or two and write a one page description of each major character.  Tell the story from the character's point of view.  "Great fiction is character driven" according to Mr. Ingermanson.  Editors will eat it up.

Step 6

Take a week and expand your one page plot synopsis to four pages.  Your triangle is starting to look like a basic snowflake by this point.

Step 7

It's time to make a character chart.  Give each character a birth date, description, history, motivation and how he or she changed during the course of the story.  This is the stage where a published novelist would start writing the first draft or an unpublished novelist would write the proposal.

Step 8

Write a four page synopsis.  Use a spreadsheet to make a list of the scenes to turn the story into a novel.  It's like a "story at a glance".  Devote one line to each scene, point of view, plot and number of pages.  Mr. Ingermanson's spreadsheets usually total 100 lines.  Your snowflake should be acquiring much more detail by now.

Step 9

Take one week to write a narrative description of your story.  The one line descriptions in your spreadsheets should now be paragraphs detailing the essential conflict, important dialogue.  Write one to two pages per chapter, making about 50 pages in total.  This is your chance to revise.

Step 10

Pound out your first draft.  The story should fly off your fingertips.  According to Randy Ingermanson, planning out your story in such detail can triple your fiction writing speed.  "No reason to spend 500 hours writing a wandering first draft of your novel when you can write a solid one in 150," he explains.  Midway through your draft, fix any broken parts of your design document.  You will be thrilled at how deep your story has become, according to Mr. Ingermanson.  

Note:  Snowflake Pro software is available to order online at http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/product/snowflake-pro-software/.

For more information, read Randy Ingermanson's book Writing Fiction for Dummies.

No comments:

Post a Comment