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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I “Finished” Battle Song–Writing With the End in Mind

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I know, I know, you got so excited when you saw this. “Whoa, she finished her novel in a month? Awesome!”

Well, not really…but I did finish the end of Battle Song(Which was only about 5,000 words long…so not that awesome.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I saw a writing tip that said to start writing at the end, so that you know where you’re going with the story. Since I’m not an outliner, this sounded like a great idea to try. Normally, I never have endings planed out.

So I took some time to prepare (though, not too much, since I already had a basis of the world from last November, when I originally started Battle Song). I figured out a few main scenes I wanted to happen at the end, and then I decided to write it.

But every single scene didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

Some might call it a waste of time because I’ll probably only use two or three paragraphs plus some phrases of that ending, but I thought it was rewarding, and here’s why.

Because the ending turned out so much what I didn’t want, I figured out what I did want.

I took a few notes while I was writing, and here’s a few of them to show you what I mean:

When this is rewritten I need to do better at the dagger her sisters giving her being more tempting or something…this is a bit not intense enough, as if everything is already decided. There’s not enough realization.


Ugh, there’s so much explaining in the scene. I want Amrya to figure almost all of it out, if possible, and have <spoiler> be the cinching moment when it all comes together. So I’ll need more stuff throughout the book.


(And a good one.)

Ooh okay so she has this ancestry line… <spoiler spoiler> So as she’s learning more about them, she’s thinking about her ancestors, realizes that…interesting, hehe. Yay!


It was a great learning experience for me. These last few scenes were supposed to be pivotalintense scenes, and they just really weren’t. Writing them told me that I needed to bring more elements of the ending throughout the entire book, so that there would be traces and hints to what would happen from the very beginning.

Basically I need to foreshadow.

Additionally, writing the ending first helped me figure out what I really wanted with this story. What I wanted the reader to feel, to come away with. I’m still figuring it out, but I have a much better idea.

In the first version I started (that is, Battle Song 1.0, (this is 2.0)), Amrya trades her beauty rather than her voice. I realized that, as I was writing 1.0, I didn’t want that. It didn’t affect her enough.

As I tried to figure out the exact aspects of her deal with the sea witch, I was having a lot of trouble, but I came up with a few ideas. Writing the ending scene, when it came up again, helped me figure it outEven though I’m still not sure about it. But it’s better.

And religion! In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, part of the reason the little mermaid wants to become a human and marry the prince is so that she can have an immortal soul. (The mermaids don’t have souls–they drift into seafoam at death–but marriage to a human would combine his soul with hers.)

It came up in 1.0, but I didn’t really realize how important I wanted it to be, and how much it affected the story. I was really intrigued by this aspect that Disney took out (well, they took out a lot of things), and as I planned and wrote this ending, it became a very integral part of the plot line.

(Not to mention that there was a little scene that was like a fluffy bit of goodness and I love it to death.)

Writing the end was pretty awesome, and it’s also helped me as I restart with Battle Song 2.0! I’ve written one chapter, and it’s pretty great, mostly because of the development I did. Everything is a lot more important to Amrya as a character and expressed in much better ways.

So, writing the end? I’d call it a success.


let us speak to each other wonderful words

Well…that was kind of a rambly post. What did you think? It was supposed to be a writing advice post but I think it turned into more of an update post, so…oops.

Have you ever tried writing/planning out the ending to your stories/novels first? How do you plan for your ending? How do you plan your novel–or do you? What things are absolutely essential to figure out before you start writing?

Oh, and check out Battle Song‘s new pageIt’s even got a synopsis and everything. *wink wink* Don’t ask me why I winked there. I just did.

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

I think I’ve finished the prep for my Zel novel. Over 50 pages of handwritten notes, plus 20 typed, as well as many rambles written to my friends on the YWP site. Worldbuilding, characterization, a few preliminary scenes here and there, and a very basic plot.

Okay, so maybe the plot could still use some more work, but I don’t want to wait while claiming “I’m not ready” if I’ll never be ready. I’ve already found things that need more development, and I haven’t even started yet. I could take ages working on the prep for this novel, with meticulous world building and fully developed characters, and still never get to a point where I felt ready to begin.

Of course, most of us do need to prep, to a point. I’ve written plenty of novels where I haven’t done any prep at all, and to be honest, they didn’t turn out as well as they could have, if I had just planned a little bit more.

But, at the same time, we can’t stay prepping forever. I’ve heard that there’s a fine line between editing your novel and just procrastinating doing anything with it, and I think this applies well to novel prep as well. Once you’ve reached a certain point, you just have to dive in instead of testing the waters with your toe.

I’m not sure where that fine line is for me. Maybe I could continue prepping a little longer and then begin, but I’d rather err on the side of having a little bit more revision to do than on the side of procrastination.

So I’m going to start writing the first draft. And if this one doesn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, there’ll be room for a second draft, and a third, and a fourth, and as many drafts as are needed to fix it up and make it right.

I’ve decided I’m finished counting down. So, ready or not, here I come!