A while back I posted a blog entitled How do you write a novel? The post highlighted several different methods of prewriting and writing activities. My past method has never involved much planning. I just sat down to write and let everything come to me when and if it did. For participating this summer in the YA Novel Challenge I decided to actually do something I never do and plan the novel first.
I had another look at some of the methods I had written about and decided to give one of them a more in-depth try. The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D is based on the idea that great writing is designed. I decided to give this method a go.
The first step is to take an hour and write a one sentence summary of what your novel is about. Your sentence should be around 15 words in length and be a potential selling tool for the novel at a later date. It should not use the character’s name rather highlight who the character is, what they want to gain and what they have to lose. I must admit I wrote a few sentences before I found one that I was happy with but it did not take me an hour, it was more like ten minutes. Perhaps I did it wrong, I don’t really know. So I quickly moved on to step two.
The second step is to take another hour and expand that first sentence into a paragraph. It should tell of the general story structure, disasters that occur and the ending. Although it only took me another ten minutes to do this part, I did find this step a valuable one when I modified it a bit. Instead of just doing a paragraph I then took another ten minutes and made a mini outline because I liked the notion that you should divide your book into four quarters and each quarter has a corresponding disaster. The final disaster is the one that ties everything together. So I outlined my disasters into four distinct sections.
In step three you design your characters. For my new novel I have five of them that will play major or supporting rolls so this was a very useful and fun step. You decide basically who they are, what they look like, what motivates them, what their goals are etc. This is the only step that actually relates to any prewriting activity that I have done in the past. This step actually took me a couple hours to flesh out all of my characters until I was content that I had captured enough of their essences to move on.
Step four is where you are supposed to take each sentence of your summary from step two and begin expanding on it until you have a fully developed paragraph for each one. Ultimately you will end up a one page guide to your novel. This is where I stopped following The Snowflake Method and improvised.
The outline of disasters I created was instead what I have decided to follow and expand on. However I can see the logic behind building on the sentences, paragraphs and finally pages until your novel is written. It just did not seem natural to me therefore I have sort of skipped right to the final step which is to write the novel.
So currently I am just over 3,000 words into the first chapter. I had set my write goal at 1,000 a day but did 2,000 yesterday so all is going well. My opinion of The Snowflake Method is that it could work very well for someone who is highly structured and likes to work within guidelines but for those of us who are pantsers it might feel just a bit too controlled.