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I’m a Snowflake

I’ve spent many hours this week ‘planning’ my novel.

It’s proved far more challenging than I expected.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was following the process laid out in Lisa Cron’s book ‘ Story Genius’. Initially, all went well, I found the content interesting and the guidance helpful, but then I started losing the plot (pun intended).

The blame for this can’t be laid at the doorstep of Ms Cron. It’s typical of me to flit around like a butterfly on crack, landing on something for the briefest time before fluttering off to the next thing that catches my eye.

Matters weren’t helped when I went back into my Kindle library to take another look at my collection of writing books, and I don’t know wether to be ashamed or proud of what I’m about to tell you – I discovered there were over 60 of them!

I guess it’s hardly surprising that I got myself stuck is it? Every one of those books gives different advice.

Generally speaking though the books fall into two categories; those that promote careful planning before putting pen to paper (outliners), and those promoting a ‘dive right in and see where the writing takes you’ approach (pantsers).

The latter method is appealing, not least because it seems like less work. That’s because you can get writing straight away, no faffing about, no procrastinating. Problem is that’s a con. It doesn’t take a genius (story or otherwise) to see that charging off blindly into the wilderness with no idea of where you’re going is risky. The chances of ending up in the perfect place having used the best route to get there are about zero.

That’s the con. At best, you’re inevitably going to go down many blind alleys and you might even have to start right back at the beginning again. I’m not productive enough to risk wasting all that time and all those words.

Some of you may know that I once built a sailing boat. If I’d just started nailing bits of timber together without any sort of plan it’s unlikely to have been seaworthy, hell, it probably wouldn’t have floated.

That’s why I bought some plans from someone who knew what they were doing.

It’s a stretch to compare writing a fiction book with building a boat but the similarities are there.

I can’t take the ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ approach and neither can I get bogged down in the minutiae of pre-writing outlines – in effect writing the book before writing the book.

One thing all those writing books do agree on is that there is no ‘right’ way to write a book. What works for one author might not work for another. The only way to find out what works for you is to experiment.

After a lot of self-experimentation I’ve discovered a method which (so far) seems to fit my way of working just fine.

It’s called the ‘Snowflake Method’. It was developed by an American writer called Randy Ingermanson. And what I like about it the most is that it seems to fit right between outlining and writing organically, which is where I think I’m comfortable.

In a nutshell it’s based around the idea that a writer begins with a simplistic deep theme and then, over time, develops and adds complexity. In other words; you start with a simple idea and then build on this idea until it transforms from a single sentence into a full-blown novel.

I had the simple idea, I’ve written the single sentence and developed it into a paragraph. This week I’ll try and get to the point where I can start writing scenes as soon as the 1st November NaNoWriMo starting gun fires.

Wish me luck!

If you’re interested to find out more you’ll find the book an Amazon or check out Randy’s website advancedfictionwriting.com

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Copyright Neil Hawkesford 2020