Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The "Snowflake Method" Part Two

I discovered Randy Ingermanson's writing blog and his novel development process dubbed "The Snowflake Method" by way of Larry Brooks' Storyfix blog. I've attended Brooks' "Core Competency" and "Story Structure" workshops at the Willamette Writers Conference and found them to be lifesavers. Ingermanson's Snowflake Method melds well with Brooks' guidelines. So I attempted to apply them in the creation of a new story (instead of trying to salvage an existing draft).

Now, Ingermanson's blog gives a good summary of the Snowflake Method, but when I learned he had co-authored Writing Fiction for Dummies, I made a beeline for the nearest book store.

Ingermanson, like Brooks, is not a my-way-or-the-highway type. Both take into account that some people require a detailed outline before writing, while others need only a blank screen (or piece of paper). But Writing Fiction for Dummies is a book-length expansion of his novel development process that includes a chapter devoted to the ten steps of the Snowflake Method.

I've read numerous books and attended many workshops. I've applied bits and pieces of all in drafting my novels. The results have been mixed.

So this time, in developing The Curse of the Blood Stone, I stuck with Ingermanson's Snowflake Method (underpinned by Brooks' story structure guidelines). I breezed through some steps and struggled with others. I let the story percolate on the back burner when blocked, and scribbled like crazy after the solution came to me.

Bottom line: it works!

I just completed Step 8, the Scene List. I have 101 scenes! A beginning, middle, and end.

Step 9 is analyze the scenes. That is, determine the type of scene, the point-of-view character for each scene, scene setting, decide if it's a proactive or reactive scene, etc. Ingermanson suggests using a spreadsheet to create the scene list, but since I have considerable experience with MS Word and very little with Excel or other spreadsheets, I went with a Word table. The spreadsheet/table will allow me to easily add a column of detail and rearrange the order of the scenes. So I'll print out my scene list and jot my notes, make the necessary changes, print out the revised scene list -- and start writing!

For anyone getting started in the fiction process, I highly recommend Larry Brooks' books:

With the aid of the above three books, a newbie can develop the seed of an idea into a real story, and develop that story on a structure that has all the right scenes in all the right places.

By the way, I don't get a kickback from Ingermanson or Brooks. But if I ever get published I owe them an acknowledgment. ;-)


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll look into those books.

Rising Rainbow said...

Good to know. Thanks!

gowestferalwoman said...

And you'll get an acknowledgement from me, if I ever get published ;)

Thank you for taking the time to dissect these author's takes on writing; your opinion is highly regarded in "my book"!

MattBeano said...

I'm a newbie author, published one book two years ago, a fatal mistake as this was my first novel, and before i published it (online, of course), id forgotten to check for spelling errors etc.
However, now planning my second novel, using the snowflake method, and i'll definitely check these books out before i start writing. I'm actually blogging my planning as i go along, and currently i'm up to step 8 of the snowflake method.