Randy Ingermanson put up a great guide for how to write a novel using what he calls the “snowflake” method. In his introduction, he mentions that the method won’t work for every writer. However, the method is sound. Take a few moments, hop over to his page, and read it real quick. I’ll keep my post short this week so you’re not overburdened with too many words on screen.
I’m inclined to think that the method is more useful for beginning writers, as experienced writers tend to do much of the work instinctively. Still, even experienced writers can find themselves in a rut. This method can help them avoid falling into the same traps of repetitive characters and story conventions.
The basic idea of the method is this: ideas for stories, the initial “what if” that drives fiction, is like a seed. The snowflake method is set up to plant that seed, to water it, to watch it grow, to prune it and trim it until it becomes a fully grown novel.
Admittedly, I don’t take nearly this much time brainstorming my ideas before I begin my novel. But then, I do find myself bogged down in the middle, rethinking the direction I’m heading. On several occasions, I’ve had flat characters that only start to act like real people in the final chapters of the novel. Then, I go back and revise. Avoiding that pitfall sounds pretty good to me.
As I work feverishly on the final chapters of the second book in my Hand of Adonai series, I wonder if I’ll find myself doing more planning work before setting out on book three.
What process do you undertake in the writing of your novels or stories? How successful are they? What seems to work the best for you?