With so many different ways of setting up your writing is it is no wonder that writing a novel is frustrating. Personally, I find that outlines can be a great way to organize yourself and keep things straight.
My way of writing consists of writing a couple of sentences on a note card that describes the chapter I am going to work on. Sometimes I use a notebook and other times I use post-it notes on a board. For me I find this method to be more creative and less like homework. However, there is more to life then just note cards!
There is another method of writing that I am curious about and that is the Snowflake Method. This method is worked out into ten steps that gives you the option to plan out your novel extensively.Developed by writer Randy Ingermanson the snowflake method goes like this.
In step one, the writer will come up with a one-sentence description about the novel. It is recommended that this be fewer than fifteen words and combines the complete story including the personal journey of the main character. This step forces the writer to focus on critical elements of the story. Added bonus this step helps train you for the query letter.
Step two expands to a paragraph of the description in step one. In this step Ingermanson suggests that you uses five sentences with the first one containing the setup. The next three sentences should describe the main conflicts with the final one wrapping up the story.
In step three, here the writer composes a one-page summary sheet for each main character. You will include the characters’ major goals, conflict, motivation, and epiphany. Also, summarize the story from the point of view of that character. I hear this method is good for those who are having a hard time putting their characters to life. If you want to develop your characters organically then you may want to skip this part of only use parts of it.
Step four brings you back to the plot. Here you create a brief synopsis by taking those five sentences from your summarizing paragraph and expand each one into a paragraph of their own. (Get the theme here? Building on what you have done..like a snowflake! ha!) Bonus*this will produce a document that can be used for querying agents and publishers.
Step five brings it back around to the characters, and this time the writer will write about the story from the point of view of various characters. Basically, this is where the characters get to tell their story. In the snowflake method, Ingermanson suggest you write a page and a half for the for the main characters. This is the part where you will get juicy tidbits for your story and create strong character development.
Step six expands the one-page synopsis into four. In the seventh step, you will expand the character charts and histories. Step eight maps out each individual scene of the novel on a spreadsheet using one line per scene. Make sure you list the point of view that the scene will be told from and what happens in the scene. You can also include estimated length of the scene.
The night step, I think is optional. Even Ingermanson dropped this from is own application of the snowflake method. Here you expand each scene from the spreadsheet into a paragraph creating a long narrative. This introduces conflict, though you could also note that on the spreadsheet.
Last but not least, I know how many steps are there again! Step ten, though it is not really a step at all. Here you will actually write the first draft of your novel. Having sketched out the novel intensively gives you the advantage of skirting writer’s block!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, my goodness that is a lot of steps! I agree. But do you think that this method is worth it? Creating a blueprint could prevent a lot of headaches and frustration you are sure to run into later. Question is, is this method right for you? What methods do you put into practice when you are writing? Is the snowflake method one you want to try?