1. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    Any Snowflake writers out there?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JMTweedie, Mar 16, 2011.

    I'm writing my novel using the snowflake method.

    So far I have written my Storyline, three-act structure and I'm currently writing my initial synopsis, which shouldn't take me too long, might even finish it this evening. I will then start writing my scene list using a spreadsheet so that I can shuffle them around easily.

    It would be good to get some tips from others that use this method.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Can you please elaborate more on what exactly snowflake method is?
     
  3. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    It's basically when you plan your novel from the top down. You start with your storyline for your entire book in a single sentence.

    Then you compile your three act structure, which means writing about five sentences on the main setbacks that your main character will encounter.

    From this you expand a little more and write your synopsis - around 1000 words.

    You then write your scene list and lastly from the scene list you write out your main body of text with all the description, dialogue etc.


    The opposite of this method is the seat-of-the-pants method which is where you just sit and write your entire novel and then edit and re-edit until you get it right, then write your synopsis last.

    Sorry for not clarifying this in my first post.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This is almost exactly how I outline, except I don't go by a three-act structure.

    The three acts are basically:

    1. Pre-conflict. Introduction to MC, setting, etc.

    2. Conflict. What happens and what the MC does to deal with it.

    3. Resolution.

    Is this correct?
     
  5. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    My igloo started as a snowflake scene....I do not spreadsheet but I build both directions from my debut flake now scene one in the third and final act
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Yep, I'm a snowflake writer. It seems like a lot of folks here tend towards the seat-of-the-pants method, at least by the number of times people have told me to stop planning and just write and see where it takes me.

    I know Jim Butcher (one of my favorite authors and one of the inspirations for my writing method) is essentialy a snowflake writer, though he doesn't formally follow the snowflake method.
     
  7. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    Yes that's really what it's all about. The three act structure is where you face your character with about three major disasters/setbacks/conflicts throughout the course of the story, each one worse than the last.

    The first setback has to set the course of the story in motion, about a quarter way through the book, at the end of the first act if you like. The second setback is ideally around the middle of the story and the third and worst at around the end of the third quarter. The last quarter deals with the final confrontation and resolution of the story.

    You don't need to have three setbacks exactly you could have less or more and the story could still work. Mine does have three setbacks before the final confrontation. I've already planned what these are and how they are resolved in each case.
     
  8. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I'm totally put off the SOTP method by the re-editing needed afterwards, that's why I plan first. I like knowing my storyworld and characters inside out before I start, then I know what they would or wouldn't do/say before I start.
     
  9. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Exactly. It helps create a much more cohesive and consistent story world and characters, and, at least for me, it's completely worth the upfront effort.

    I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm a software developer by trade, and when you're doing a big programming project, you don't just dive in; that creates a huge mess. You plan by making a ganeral overview, figuring out the major steps, and then deciding how you go from one of those to the next. A key tenet of software development is that changes early are easy and cheap, while changes once you have done a lot of the work are expensive and require you to figure out all of what something connects to. The exact same principle applies to writing a novel.

    Some authors and programmers can complete a project without a high-level plan, but I do better on a large project with a plan set out ahead of time so I can see where things are going, and I think at least a basic plan is worth putting together to keep the storyline together.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you guys about planning, i have used the snowflake method myself for one writing project i did and it was really helpful because i got new ideas while planning and writing it all down, and a much more structured story. this way the characters act in a special way from specific reasons and its easier to get a good overall view of the plot.
     
  11. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I been discussing it before. And i would say that improvisation is a skill, the same way planning is.

    The same way some people are great improvised cooking, it is because they know cooking methods, they know their ingredients and how to make the best of them, they know what flavors go together, and they know how to combine it, how to work what they got and hot to wrap it up.
     
  12. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    But when a good cook improvises cooking, he creates at least a rudimentary image in his mind of what he's going to create, and this serves as a general guide, even if the result turns out radically different. I think there's plenty of room for improvisation during writing, but your story will likely not get anywhere if you don't give it some direction, even if it ends up taking its own course in the end.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I second this!
     
  14. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if I continue the cooking metaphor. Many discovery writer like to pick out a bunch of ingredients out of the fridge they thing might work together and just go from there. They begin with a defined staring point rather then a defined goal.

    "I want to do something with this bunch of tomato and choritzo."

    "I want to do a story about a party organizer during a civil war."
     
  15. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Right, exactly. And when the cook pulls the tomato and chorizo out of the fridge, he has some idea in his head of how they might go together. The result might be radically different and surprise him, but knowing that things might go together is in itself having a plan. The difference is that this plan generally stays in the artist's head and isn't written down, which is perfectly fine by me, but I'd personally find it untenable when writing a novel (if you can keep those things straight in your head, then that's awesome, go for it).

    Edit: I feel like we're closing in on the same conclusion from two different directions.
     
  16. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't typically write that way. I just sort of let the story develop in whatever way it wants to.
     
  17. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I though about the commet on the thensensy to not get anywhere and lack direction without planning. Finding direction and keeps scenes moving is an skill you need to learn as well, how to tilt a scene, how to say "yes", how to not block yourself etc.

    Any book you read on impro, any kind of improvisation theater, music, design etc will deal with these issues. It an issue yes, but it one of the skills you got to pick up if you going to work with improvisation.

    But is also more of an non-issue then you might think. Ever seen children play story or role games? They keep on driving the story onwards and onwards. That part comes easy, if you get past censoring your own ideas (as many adults do). Keeping things moving is easy. The problem is rather, it can be hard to keep a thematical sense of progress.

    (As seen as many TV series when they start to go downhill. Keep things rolling and happening is easy. What usually goes wrong is that there no progress thematically anymore. )
     
  18. joelpatterson
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    joelpatterson Member

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    This whole concept sounds... contrived!
     
  19. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best thing about planning the story out beforehand while you have the inspiration is that when you lose it, you can still write. If you're writing without a goal and you lose your inspiration, it's much harder to finish. If you already have the entire story, you can just focus on the writing.
     
  20. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yet. There is a slight difference between:

    "I start like this because I want it to give me this result"


    and

    "I start like this because I want to discover what the result might be."


    The result might be the same, but the mindset of the writer/cook/artist is different. One is working towards a defined goal, the other is exploring.
     
  21. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Yeah, that's really what I was referring to. And some writers can handle this just fine (or will require a lot of editing to work it out), others of us do the planning up-front instead. Different approaches, both can yield great results. Stephen King is one example of a wildly successful seat-of-the-pants writer.

    So it is! All writing is, by definiton, contrived. The key is not to let your work look it. :D
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally agree with this. If i have to rely entirely on inspiration i wouldnt write as much. If you have a plan and get stuck temporarily you can always fall back on the plan, "where am I going?" "How can i get there?" if you know what you want to achieve its easier to find a way out of the problems or blocks that might occur. then you can always talk about degree of planning. Some people plan rigorously and some have a more or less defined idea in their heads just not written down, but i still think its difficult to produce something that makes sense if you just write out of plain inspiration of the moment and i also wonder how that would work if you got published and suddenly had to face deadlines etc. sure, as long as we write for our own entertainment it can be fun and give a sense of creativity, but when you have to get to the final result within a specific time i think a plan is definitely the best tool.
     

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