I just learned about another writing "tool" via Story Fix, the blog maintained by Larry Brooks. He writes about and presents workshops on the Six Core Competencies and Story Architecture of novel writing. I found his sessions at the Willamette Writers Conferences to be life savers. So when he referenced another writing aid I had to check it out.
Randy Ingermanson has developed what he calls the Snowflake Method of organizing a novel.
Yes -- this is a fractal.
Ingermanson's method is the reverse of peeling an onion. Instead of removing layers, he adds layers in the process of developing and organizing his novels. Since adding layers to an onion isn't a particularly handy image, he instead uses the fractal.
The first step in the process is to write a one-sentence summary of your novel. He suggests striving for no more than 15 words. This is what many folks call "the elevator pitch." You know -- you're on the elevator with the agent/movie director of your dreams and you have only one or two floors to sell your story idea.
Step two in Ingermanson's process is to develop the single sentence into a full paragraph. In step three he moves on to the major characters about whom he writes a one-page summary.
Subsequent steps expand on previous efforts. Each step delves deeper into the story and the characters. By the time he begins drafting the novel, he knows his story characters inside and out, and has solved many problems of logic with the story progression.
Those with outline phobia will eschew these story development methods. However, both Brooks and Ingermanson suggest that planning up front avoids hundreds of pages of redrafts.
Having ground to a halt on Water Tribute with a case of "muddleinthemiddleitis," I am eager to try Ingermanson's Snowflake Method in combination with Brooks' Story Architecture.
With Water Tribute placed on the back burner (waaaay back), my imagination has been captivated by a different story idea. The working title is The Adventure of the Blood Stone (which will likely be changed to The Curse of the Blood Stone). I'm still doing world building research. I have a list of characters and some idea of the major plot points. I even drafted opening paragraphs when I was held captive in a waiting room one day. I've made a stab at the one-sentence story summary, but I think I need to have the setting firmly established before I begin moving around the characters in their story world.
I already know that writing a novel "by the seat of my pants" doesn't work for me. So I hope this additional tool will help me reach my goal.