The Snowflake Method (Becoming an Author, Part Two)

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After much procrastination, relaxation, stress-ation (aka school) and vacation, I am back! At least for today. No promises for the future, but hopefully I’ll post during NaNoWriMo, which I am…not really but kind of doing? Essentially, I’m not starting a novel during November, but I’m going to be working on planning one.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post…the Snowflake Method, which I’m using with Battle Song! Are you excited? I am.

(P.S. Want to see my first Becoming an Author post? It was ages ago, but whatever. You can find it here.)


So what’s the Snowflake Method?

The Snowflake Method is a way of planning or organizing a novel, starting from a tiny sliver of your story (a one-sentence summary) to the full complexity of a first draft. Successive steps along the way help you expand it piece by piece until you’ve created an entire novel.

This ten step method was developed by Randy Ingermanson, and you can check out the ten steps here at his website.


Why am I using the Snowflake Method?

The first time I heard of the Snowflake Method was when my dad and I did Camp NaNo together (my first NaNo experience) in April 2013. He used this method to plan out his novel, but I didn’t really know much about it except for the basic idea (from basic to complex).

I used to shun the Snowflake Method without knowing much about it because I’m not a planner. I didn’t want to be a planner. I thought it would limit my creativity, freedom, and enjoyment–and maybe it will, but I’m going to try it out.

But lately I’ve been frustrated with how I can’t seem to finish a novel. I’ll write a few chapters or even 20- or 30,000 words…and then it fizzles away. In the past, even when I have finished, the middle of my novel has sagged. I can write a beginning just fine, but the rest? Not so much.

So, I decided I’d just check the website out. If it helped me, I’d try it out. And when I read through it, I realized that it was exactly what I needed.

I needed something to organize my work, to help me develop a functioning beginning, middle, and end, and to assist me in writing a novel that would affect other people–and that’s what it’s for.

(I didn’t worry about buying the book or the software. Like he says, everyone will do it a little differently, and I don’t think I need those things to make it work for me.)


Is it working?

Yes…as far as I can tell. I’ve only done the first three steps, so who knows? And I’m not sure if I’ll know until I actually write the first draft. Or technically, third draft? Because it will be the third time I’ve started Battle Song. But for right now, it’s helping me.

It’s not that it suddenly made me realize what everything was supposed to be–on the other hand, it revealed the problems with my story–the lack of a specific conflict, especially. When describing your novel in such a short time frame–one sentence–you have to strip it down to its very essence and build up from there.

Here’s that one sentence (or logline) describing Battle Song:

In a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, a warrior mermaid seeks divine forgiveness for her murders while forced to fight in a war.

It took me a while to figure out what the central conflict was and how to make sure it conveyed the interesting parts of the ideas (not just the fighting but also the religion and Amrya’s conflicted nature throughout the book), but now that I took the time to figure it out, I really like the logline and how it will affect my story.

Also, if you’re interested in starting the Snowflake Method or just writing a logline for your book, here’s the two sources I liked the best. (The readability is awful with a black background, but the information was clearly stated and helpful for me.)

Building the Perfect Logline for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Story

Logline Workshop: Jurassic Park


Your thoughts?

Have you ever used the Snowflake Method? Do you want to? How do you plan (or not) your novels? Do you think that’s the right way for you, or could you improve? Do you have a logline for your current novel? If so, please share it! And what do you think of the logline for Battle Song?

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12 thoughts on “The Snowflake Method (Becoming an Author, Part Two)

  1. Kellyn Roth October 28, 2017 / 9:04 PM

    Have you ever used the Snowflake Method?:
    No, I haven’t! I just have too much information on my books at this current moment to make it work for me. I start with so much information on characters already (because I’m writing series upon series) so it’s annoying to have to do steps like that … but then I might like it if it weren’t for the fact that I have my own system.

    Do you want to?:
    Maybe someday!

    How do you plan (or not) your novels?:
    Normally I have a pretty good idea of the plot of the book before I begin outlining, and then I just write down everything I know, then I write down every little thing I want to happen in the book. I spend more time on the characters, though …

    Do you think that’s the right way for you, or could you improve?:
    Yes, I think it works for me. I’ll probably always be sharpening my technique, but I don’t know.

    Do you have a logline for your current novel?:
    I don’t! I’ve tried, but I just can’t come up with one. The novel seems so complicated … and yet too simple and boring when I simplify it! XD I honestly can’t come up with it. I guess … “A young woman journeys to Scotland and does some stuff and figures out what she wants to do with her life and then falls for this dude.” (Okay, not really …)

    And what do you think of the logline for Battle Song?:
    I like it! I think it’s both intriguing and informative, and (based on my limited knowledge) it seems to sum everything up well. 🙂

    Like

    • Lana October 30, 2017 / 7:14 PM

      Haha, I think you have a pretty good method set up yourself, which is good. I need structure because I’m not good at giving it to myself, but you’ve already got that covered. 😛

      THE DUDE SHE FALLS FOR BETTER BE WHO I THINK IT IS. And that’s not that bad of a logline… A young woman strives to find the purpose of her life while…[insert conflict here]. And mentioning the time period would probably be good too. And Ivy’s mental state because that adds to the conflict.

      Thanks! It changes some things, but I like it as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth October 30, 2017 / 8:34 PM

        Yeah, I’m pretty structured. Sometimes I wish I allowed myself a little more freedom, but I figure I’d go crazy if I had to write without knowing what was going to happen next … whenever it happens, the story seems to sizzle out.

        *coughs* *may or may not be revealing that Wednesday* (Because I for some reason can’t keep a secret about this particular book … unlike AFOP, which NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT *laughs evilly*)

        “A confused young woman strives to find the purpose of her life while trying to aid her friend in his goals.”

        But then that kind of leaves out Jordy’s part of the story or rather relegates him to a minor character, which he’s not. And I’m sure to offend people if I go around calling Ivy “confused.” *sighs* Too much to think about. XD

        Like

      • Lana November 4, 2017 / 9:49 AM

        Then I suppose you best not stop writing with a lot of structure. 😛

        i KNOW ABOUT AFOP MWAHAHAHA

        *shrugs* I don’t know…you can’t include everything in one sentence, which is kind of the point, I think. You have to determine what exactly is the most important about your book.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth November 4, 2017 / 11:34 AM

        YES YOU ARE IN THE SECRET SOCIETY.

        Yeah, that’s the tough thing, I think. What is the thing people need to know? I feel bad about leaving Jordy out since he and Ivy technically share the full spotlight … but I guess if I were to choose a true main character … nope, it would still be both of them. *growls*

        Like

      • Lana December 4, 2017 / 3:32 PM

        YESSSSS I LOVE SECRET SOCIETIES.

        *pats* You’ll figure it out someday, dahling. (But yay I’m glad Jordy gets to share the spotlight! 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Morgan @ studiesincharacter November 27, 2017 / 12:33 AM

    I’ve attempted to boil Oracular down to a single sentence and the best I got was “an Oracle decides she’s tired of giving prophecies and wants to be the heroine instead”.

    …which does a fantastic job of expressing the conflict of the story, of the rest of the characters, and, um, well, everything. Okay, it almost touches on the theme of the story, which is, for lack of a better word, about destiny, I guess?

    Cyberspace, hmm…
    “Three siblings are forced into pulling off a heist.”

    …heh.

    Okay I’ve mentioned my failed attempts with the Snowflake method before, so yes, I’ve attempted it, no, it doesn’t really work for me, because a) I’m too impatient to do that much planning and b) the way my story ideas come to me doesn’t…quite…seem to work? I dunno.

    Uuuhhhh how do I plan my stories? Well I think my last blog post was about all my laughable attempts to outline Oracular?
    I think? Lemme check. …oh whoa, I actually wrote several more posts than I thought I did. O.o
    https://morgandusky.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/following-oracular-3-outlines-yay-outlines/
    There.

    ALSO, THE LOGLINE SOUNDS FANTASTIC.
    AND I SHOULD COME BACK TO WORDPRESS (AGAIN) SHOULDN’T I?

    Like

    • Lana December 4, 2017 / 3:28 PM

      No, that doesn’t entirely express all the rest of the characters, hehe, but it does show Ereinne’s plotline! And yay Cyberspace. *hugs Cev because he always needs hugs*

      That’s okay. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the best method for me, but it is (or…was) working really well now that I’ve started Battle Song twice and have a good idea of the characters and the world and just need to figure out the plot. Although, I need to get back on working on it now that I’ve mostly finished college applications and such.

      And yay outlines! Hehe, are you still using the outline you wrote about in that blog post for Oracular or are you using Attempt #44 now? 😉

      THANK YOU. 🙂
      AND YES, YOU SHOULD! AS SHOULD I…

      Like

      • Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 11, 2017 / 8:57 PM

        I agree, Cev always needs hugs.

        Heheh, yeah. But hey, you’re back to it!

        I am using the same outline! I am actually happy with this outline. I’m not following it perfectly, heheh, but it is working.

        YES, WE REALLY SHOULD. I’M ATTEMPTING IT RIGHT NOW.

        Like

      • Lana December 13, 2017 / 5:26 PM

        Ooh, yay, that’s good!

        YAY! 😀 I…am not sure when I’ll go back to blogging. I need to figure out what I actually want to post about, and I think this break is okay if I don’t feel like I have anything to post. But I hope I will start again at the beginning of next year! I just need to do some brainstorming on what I want to do.

        Like

  3. Julia December 14, 2017 / 9:24 AM

    This method sounds cool! I’ll have to try it out! 😄

    Like

    • Lana December 16, 2017 / 11:32 AM

      It is cool! It’s definitely helped me find a more concrete plot for my novel, and I’m even working on an outline (which I’ve never used before)! So it’s really helpful, but it can also be really difficult at times.

      Like

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