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Monday, August 30, 2010

Preparing to Write a Novel?

For those of you who want to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) this year - I posted an article about this a few weeks ago (read it at What is NaNoWriMo?) - I found a great method to help you with the preparation phase of your novel.

It is called The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson, and you can find it at The Snowflake Method.

I actually came across this method about two years ago, and being more of a wing-it kind of person, I put it to the side and forgot about it. Three partially completed novels later, I've come across it again in my writing program and now I'm going to have to use it. But I've also learned that a result of the lack of novel preparation or novel design (all that stuff you do before you actually start writing your rough draft) is an unfinished novel or a novel that doesn't go deep enough to fully connect a reader to your story. If the writer doesn't go deep enough, how can the reader? That's not to say, all writers write poorly if they don't pre-plan, but I have realized in my case, I'm just no good at winging it.

So, for NaNoWriMo this year, I'm not winging it. Using The Snowflake Method, I'm going to create a thorough novel design and know exactly where my novel is going when opening bell rings come November 1. As you read through the process on the Snowflake Web site (above) you will discover many of the techniques we have learned during our lesson times in our Living Writers' Collective Creative Writing Sessions - writing hooks, characterization, and synopses, for example (in other words - you all can do this). Here is a brief overview of the ten-step process of The Snowflake Method:

Step 1: Write a one-sentence summary of your novel (use your writing hooks lessons for this one)
Step 2: Expand the one-sentence summary into a full paragraph
Step 3: Create a one-page summary sheet for each character
Step 4: Expand each sentence of your summary paragraph (from step 2) into a full paragraph (this creates a synopsis)
Step 5: Write character synopses for each character (major and important characters)
Step 6: Expand the one-page synopsis (from step 4) to a four-page synopsis
Step 7: Create character charts for each character (you could use our characterization lesson to do this)
Step 8: Outline each novel scene (this is where you really start to create your story)
Step 9: Expand each line of your outline into a multi-line paragraph description of the scene.
Step 10: Write your first draft (this will go fast because you already have all of your scenes done - this will also be where you will start on Nov. 1 for NaNoWriMo)

The idea is that with each step your novel grows and expands in detail like a snowflake.

I have completed through step 3, and it has been painless and a lot of fun. And it has been an extremely creative process - my storyline is already expanding in amazing ways. If anyone would like to join me and start preparing for your next or first novel, let me know (e-mail me, LWC members) and we'll work through the process together - maybe meeting before or after LWC meetings to provide advice and support to each other.

If you are a screenwriting person ( I know we have at least a couple in LWC), check out and link to ScriptFrenzy. This is NaNoWriMo for screenwriters, and I believe it takes place in April.

Post by: LWC Director Karen Aldridge. Visit her personal blog at My Writing Loft.

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