1. Passero
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    Passero Member

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    Snowflake method for short stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Passero, Feb 5, 2015.

    At the moment I am not really interested in writing novels. I mainly want to focus on short stories.
    While doing some research on how to structure and plot your story, I read about the snowflake method. This is mainly focused on the novel writers however I can understand how it can help structure your novels.

    I am wondering if this would also help me structure my short stories or would this method be somewhat overkill?

    I feel that at the moment I lack the discipline for structuring my story before I start. I often start writing without having a proper plot and this method seems to force me in making sure I have the details about characters, plot and so on.

    Are there any thoughts on applying this method for short story writing?
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do feel that Snowflake is overkill for a short story.

    What do you mean, you start without having a proper plot? You start writing "It was a dark and stormy night..." and then sit there waiting for inspiration? You don't need a "proper plot", you just need something to kick into your creative juices. So, that guy you saw on the bus, in a camouflage jacket and with his long hair, blonde streaked with grey, tied back with a pink hair tie, what's his story?
     
  3. Passero
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    Passero Member

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    For example I think about a concept like "what would it be if we would all live in virtual reality worlds and robots would maintain our body, house and so on"

    There could be a story in this topic but often when I think about something like this, I just start thinking about the first paragraph without actually knowing the direction I'm going into.
    For example in the example above I would start thinking about a robot talking to himself complaining about the chores he has to do, complaining how people live like robots and robots live like people.

    But I have no idea where the story will bring me.

    That's just one example but it happens a lot to me.

    Hope this also clarifies why I was thinking on applying the snowflake method :)
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Hemingway used it all the time. It works for him obviously. It's a good way to 'focus' your short story. :)
     
  5. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    That's the beauty of it. Iwrite the same way.
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, I don't think that Snowflake would help one bit!

    As I understand it, Snowflake would be:

    1/ Boy and girl have ill-fated romance which ends in a suicide pact.
    2/ Then you think about the episodes in that romance -
    a/ first meeting, at a dance, say
    b/ then he hangs around her, overhears her telling a friend how she fancies him
    c/...
    3/ Then you flesh out the episodes...

    What you're missing is 1/ - You're at the stage of wanting to write a story set in Verona.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I started a short story the other day with just something I watched sand crabs do. I came back to it a paragraph at a time. And each time the story grew itself. I almost entered it into the short story contest but there were some excellent entries I knew it wasn't better than. So I may revisit it to see if I can't improve on it.

    But the point is, you can do it either way, start with a paragraph or with a story outline.
     
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  8. Carly Berg
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    Carly Berg Contributing Member

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    I tried the snowflake method and it didn't work very well for me. I'm not sure why. I like plot points, but applied loosely. Personally, I like to write with a general direction in mind but not too much all mapped out. Here's one article about it, if you don't already know:

    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-structure-a-story-the-eight-point-arc/
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I couldn't write like that. I think of a concept and a setting. Then I think of the beginning and the end. Then the characters. With that the rest fills itself out like crystals growing.
     
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  10. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Did anyone find the snowflake method to heavily over-do it on the character outlining? I found that was what I wasting a lot of time on, only to end up changing the majority of what I had outlined anyway once I started writing.
     
  11. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    First, I'd say that any system that works for you is great. If snowflake works for you, great.

    It will work for short stories, the fundamentals are the same.

    Personally, I prefer a combination of hero's journey and sequences for structure. Here are some of the best books:

    Writer's Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
    Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
    2100 stage Hero's Journey / Transformation / New World by Kal Bashir
    Sequence Approach by Paul Gulino
     
  12. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a reason you feel the Snoflake might be an over-kill, and you've given it yourself: it was created with novels in mind. And it's about structure (the guy who popularizes it nowadays -even claiming he "invented" it- is a physicist). The structure of a novel - not of a short story. There are different things. Very, very different. And it's about time management as well, and the economics of writing. And macro-structures and micro-structures. Plural. A short story should be singular: A character, A theme, AN episode.

    Of course you can try different approaches to plot-structuring and organizing. But if you force Snoflake into short stories, you should try screenplay writing prompts as well, and an "How to write a good advertisement" book might help too...
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, whatever works for you, @Passero. The key word here is 'works.' There isn't any point mulling over what might or might not work. Just get in there and start.

    One of the guys in my face-to-face writers group has just stunned us with the first couple of chapters of a novel he's started (his first). His starting point was simply the name of a building ...one that doesn't have a lot going for it as an energy sparker. It's just Something-Something Lodge. He said it was a name that came to him out of the blue several years ago, and stuck in his head. He claims he has no idea where his story is going, but he's already got us on the edge of our chairs with it, after three chapters. He's created two great characters already and a really intriguing situation.

    So it's not what you start with ...it's the fact that you DO something with it that counts. Don't bother seeking our approval of your methods at this stage. It's results that matter. Dig in there, give it a go ...and have fun!
     

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