Mid-Hiatus Update (After 2 Months)

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Did anyone see the lunar eclipse? I wish I could’ve!

Well, hello, all! I just wanted to give you an update on how Battle Song and other things have progressed during this past month.

As a reminder, I’m on hiatus until I finish Battle Song because I’ve decided that is the “one thing” for me to work on right now writing-wise. It’s been two months now since I officially left on hiatus, so here’s another update post!


I haven’t been writing as much this month as I did last month. And it’s mostly because I got a full-time job! Which is awesome, but it takes up a lot of time, so I haven’t had as much time to write.

Also, I feel like I’m always tired whenever I write, and so the writing is very first-draft-y. Which is okay…but sometimes it’s not very enjoyable to write that way: you know you’re at least writing, but it doesn’t really feel like you’re writing. If that makes sense.

Anyway, last post Battle Song was at 56,381 words. It is now at 72,683 words. So, I wrote 16,302 words this month. Which isn’t a lot (about half of what I wrote the month before), but at least it’s something!

I still think I’ll finish Battle Song in another month, or at least by the end of August. Why? Well, I think I finally finished the middle part of my outline, which was a little more fluid than the beginning/ending of the outline. Now I’m at the end of my novel, which is much more outlined. So I think I won’t have to worry about adding/rearranging any more scenes from here on out, which will hopefully help me write faster. (I say this as I add another scene idea to my outline…oops.)

Also, I made the decision to start reading better books that I can actually take something from, rather than cliche, run-of-the-mill books that distract me from my real life. I’m trying to read the LDS Institute selections from the Old Testament in 3 months. I want to read more capital-L Literature and more non-fiction books…I want to learn more!

Anyway, I know this is a short post, but when I come back I will hopefully have some good posts ready to bring to you!


Leave a comment below!

What have you been up to this month? Do you sometimes read books that you wish you hadn’t spent the time on? What books are you glad you spent the time on? And what’s your favorite classic novel or other piece of capital-L Literature?

Mid-Hiatus Update (After 1 Month)

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Hey readers!

I’m just popping in to give you a quick update on how my hiatus/writing has been going.

If you read my last post (my hiatus post) you’ll know that I’m on hiatus until I finish Battle Song because I’ve determined that’s the “one thing” (the most important thing) I need to do writing-wise.

Tomorrow it will have been one month since that post, so I wanted to give you some updates.

So how is the writing going?

It’s been going well! I haven’t written every day, but I have written a majority of the days in that month. Barely, haha. 16 out of 30. And I have definitely made progress.

Last month, Battle Song was 27,686 words long. Now it is 56,381. So not only did I pass the 50K mark (which is exciting!), but I also wrote 28,695 words this month. Okay, not as good as a NaNoWriMo, but still good!

I’ve been trying to write an hour every day, though occasionally it goes longer. It’s a lot easier now that it’s the summer! Yesterday I probably wrote for two hours, though I’m not certain.

Best of all, once I start writing, I usually get into it pretty quickly. Why is that? Well, here are the reasons I think.

  1. My outline! It’s seriously a life saver. It’s so nice to not have to wonder what to write next. Of course, a few little things change now and then, but instead of taking time to think of what comes next, I’m able to spend that time writing.
  2. My writing log. I’m not really sure why this is so helpful to me. Basically all I do is make a daily log of how much I wrote, how long it took me, and my writing speed in words per minute. It’s not really that I want to challenge myself because most of the time I don’t care about how fast I write (though I am getting faster). I think it’s just oddly rewarding to write down what I’ve written and calculate the speed.

Plus, I’m getting into some exciting stuff! In my Battle Song Q&A post, I mentioned the scenes I was most excited to write. Well, I’m on the first one of those right now, scenes 37-38! And it is exciting and fun to start revealing some new things.

But my overall feeling is: I want to be done with this draft! Not because I dislike writing in it (actually, I quite like it), but I want it to be done so that other people can read it! So they can compliment me? Probably. But it’s every author’s purpose to have their book be read by someone, isn’t it?

Probably just my family/friends will read this draft, once I’m done. And then there will be revisions. But…that’s still a long way off! Which leads me to the next part of this post.

Do you know when you’ll be back?

Well…not really. I’m still hoping to finish Battle Song by the end of summer, so hopefully by the end of August!

But this month I wrote about 28K. Assuming I write that much next month (which I’m not sure I will, considering I have two week-long vacations planned, that would bring me to about 85K. Another month would be 112K. I’m not sure if Battle Song will be quite that long, but it’s probably safe to assume I’ll finish sometime around the end of August.

That means I should be back, blogging again, near the beginning of September.

I’ll try to have another hiatus update post next month and see if I have a clearer idea on how close I am to finishing Battle Song. (I’m kind of hoping I’ll speed up the closer I get to the end, heh.)


So, to sum up this post, the writing is going well, and I should be back in September if all goes well.

Talk with me!

How has this past month gone for you? Have you been working on writing projects? If so, what are they and how are they going? What is the best thing you’ve gotten to do this summer, and what are you most excited for with the rest of it?

Review of The Snowflake Method

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As you may have known, I’ve been using The Snowflake Method to plan my novel, Battle Song. The Snowflake Method is a method created by Randy Ingermanson to design a novel outline. The idea is that you start small (one sentence), and expand it until you get to something large and complex (a fifty-page outline, then your first draft).

Here’s the link to his article about it: The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel

I haven’t yet finished all ten steps of The Snowflake Method, as the last step is to actually write the entire first draft, but overall, this method has worked quite awesomely for me. In this review, I’ll share some of my thoughts, including my likes and dislikes, about this method.


My Favorite Part: The Outlines

I know, I know, I told you that I wasn’t a planner, and I didn’t like outlines! Well, that’s just what I thought. I love my outlines. Why do I love them? Well, for two simple reasons:

  1. They organize my writing and plot fantastically. Previously, I’ve struggled with writing my middle…which then led to struggles in writing the climax and the ending. But having an outline makes it easy to see how the story progresses and will serve as a great guide as I draft Battle Song.
  2. They make me feel so professional! Which is definitely the more important reason, haha. But seriously, it’s so much fun to be making notes about a certain spot in the book and be able to say, “But wait, in scene #42, she says…” It just makes me feel like a real author, which is such a cool feeling.

In The Snowflake Method, you end up making two outlines. The first is in a spreadsheet, with just a short explanation of each scene. At times, it was hard to boil down the essence of a scene into 10 words or so, because there was just a lot going on in each scene. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sure what constituted as a scene. However, I love being able to see the novel at a glance. Instead of having to scroll through pages to be able to find a specific scene, I can just look at the spreadsheet and go, “Okay, that happens ten scenes later, in scene #35.” (And referencing specific scenes is, again, ridiculously fun.)

The second outline is an expanded version of the first, taking those few words you wrote and then making it into a couple of paragraphs. This is actually an optional step, but I’m loving it. It’s so fun to imagine writing these scenes later on, and since I’m not actually writing anything, the first draft will still be fun. And it will be easy to write, because I’m outlining every scene.

I made a google doc for this step only, with header links for each scene, which allows me to navigate the doc easily. Each scene has a little template that makes it easy to fill out, too.

 

 

I’ve just been having so much fun with the outlines! That being said, developing the plot enough to get to the point where I could make an outline was difficult, and I ran into several large problems. Now, however, I only have to solve little problems, so planning becomes a lot more fun!


What I Liked: Expansion of Plot

The thing I like the best about The Snowflake Method is this idea of expanding your novel from a tiny idea into an thought-out outline. And the best part about this is that you don’t expand linearly–you expand from the center outward.

To clarify, it’s not as if you start at the beginning of the outline, write the first scene, then the second, and so forth. Rather, you start with an idea that slowly leads you to create a comprehensive guide to the entire book. You have a beginning, middle, and an ending all the way from the second step, which is only a paragraph long.

Which was awesome! In previous novels, I hardly ever knew the middle or ending of the novel when I started, but by using The Snowflake Method, I was able to come up with an entire plotline that actually worked.

The organization of these plot-related steps is very cohesive and smooth. By the end of each step, I had enough information to move onto the next step. Rather than being daunted by the idea of creating an outline involving every scene, by the time I had a four-page summary of the novel, I was ready!

Here are all the plot-related steps:

  • 1 sentence summary (logline)
  • 1 paragraph summary
  • 1 page summary
  • 4 page summary
  • Spreadsheet outline (short description of each scene)
  • Expanded outline (longer description of each scene) (optional)
  • First draft

I loved how these steps fit together, and they helped me create a plot that I love.


What I Disliked: Insufficient Character Expansion

There are seven plot-related steps above. But what about the other three? Well, those are for developing characters.

  • 1 page character sheets (including a 1 paragraph storyline)
  • 1 page character storylines for major characters, 1/2 page for minor
  • Character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character

To me, these steps just aren’t sufficient to create an entire character, especially one who develops in synchrony with the plotline.

The first two steps work well together, but then, you’re suddenly expected to know “everything there is to know about each character” (the last bullet point is, in fact, a quote from the Snowflake Method article). I ended up skipping that step (more or less), as it actually seems impossible to me.

Rather than that step, I researched character arcs and developing realistic characters, and I found an article about a very simple yet emotional way to develop them: Creating Deep Realistic Characters

This includes only 4 steps:

  1. The Goal
  2. The Motivation
  3. The Deep Dark Belief
  4. The Origin of the Deep Dark Belief

It was difficult to figure this out so late in the process, so when planning another novel, I will definitely move this sooner. I still have yet to figure out how exactly I will alter The Snowflake Method to fit my character needs (perhaps adding more steps?), but I will.

Which is actually another thing I love about The Snowflake Method: you’re allowed to, even supposed to, alter it to fit your needs. You can add, remove, and change steps all you want, so that it works for you.


No Worldbuilding?

There is no worldbuilding, or even setting development, involved in The Snowflake Method. Which can be a problem, especially if you’re creating a fantasy world.

There are two sides to this issue. On one hand, you want to be able to develop your setting enough that it can take part in your plot. On the other hand, you don’t want the setting to be so important that it constricts your ability to create a good plot.

For me, this wasn’t as important. I’ve started writing Battle Song twice, and both times I developed the world and the magic a little bit more. I already had enough information that I could incorporate it into the plot.

I don’t think there’s a way to include worldbuilding into the steps of The Snowflake Method, though. Character and plot are very much intertwined, while the setting may only have a minor effect.

I’d assume this is part of the “composting” that Ingermanson talks about: the time before you begin The Snowflake Method, where you spend time just thinking about your novel, collecting ideas. Doing some development beforehand gives you a solid backdrop while you create characters and plot, but you can always change it later on, if needed.


Overall

I love how The Snowflake Method helped me organize my novel into something cohesive and understandable! It needs a few personal tweaks and alterations to work for me, but there is definitely a solid foundation.

I would definitely recommend this method to anyone who:

  • doesn’t already have a planning method that works for them
  • wants to become more serious about writing
  • wants outlines that make them feel professional (obviously important)

Your Thoughts

If you’ve tried The Snowflake Method, what did you think of it? What were some things that you would change?

If you haven’t, how do you plan your novels (or do you)? What is your favorite part of the writing process (planning, writing, revising, etc.)? What do you think is the most important element to develop when planning a novel?

(P.S. I started drafting Battle Song the other day! So you should see a post about that soon!)

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?