I want to write my own novel
Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine: Free The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is hard. Frankly, there are a thousand different people out there who can tell you how to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods.
The best one for you is the one that works for you. I teach the craft of writing fiction at writing conferences all the time. One of my most popular lectures is this one: Look it over, decide what might work for you, and ignore the rest! Different writers are different.
You can do the design work before or after you write your novel. This article will give you a powerful metaphor to guide your design. Our fundamental question is this: How do you design a novel? For a number of years, I was a software architect designing large software projects. Before you go further, take a look at this cool more info site.
The first few steps look like this: But part of the work is just managing your creativity — getting it organized into a well-structured novel. You may do some research. You start hearing the voices of different characters. The Ten Steps of Design But before you start writing, you need to get organized.
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You need to put all those wonderful ideas down on paper in a form you can use. Because your memory is fallible, and your creativity has probably left a lot of holes in your story — holes you need to fill in before you start writing your novel. You need a design document. Here is my ten-step process for writing a design document.
I use this process for writing my novels, and I hope it will help you. Step 1 Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture. When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal.
So make the best one you can! Some hints on what makes a good sentence: Try for fewer than 15 words. No character names, please! Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win. Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.
Step 2 Take another hour and expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel. This is the analog of the second stage of the snowflake. Each of the disasters takes a quarter of the book to develop and the ending takes the final quarter. If you believe in the Three-Act structure, then the first disaster corresponds to the end of Act 1. The second disaster is the mid-point of Act 2.
The third disaster is the end of Act 2, and forces Act 3 which wraps things up. Things just get worse and worse. You can also use this paragraph in your proposal. Ideally, your paragraph will have about five sentences. One sentence to give me the backdrop and story setup. Then one sentence each for your three disasters. Then one more sentence to tell the ending. This paragraph summarizes the whole story. Your back-cover copy should summarize only about the first quarter of the story. Step 3 The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters.
Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells: This is good—it means your characters are teaching you things about your story.
The purpose of each step in the design process is to advance you to the next step.
And if you haven't completely decided on one genre or are working in more than one genre, then it's no problem — it's more important to be aware of what tradition you're working in than to stick to one specific genre or category. This is the analog of the second stage of the snowflake. Part 3 Develop Your Characters 1 Choose the number of characters. Don't wait for inspiration to come to you. For example, a girl can be returning home for her father's funeral, and the reader may not know why this is going to lead to a major conflict momentarily. Its like I know where I am going with my book and yes it might become a novel. There is nothing wrong with it; in fact, it motivates me such that nothing puts me off.
Keep your forward momentum! You can always come back later and fix it when you understand the story better. Step 4 By this stage, you should have a good idea of the large-scale structure of your novel, and you have only spent a day or two. If the story is broken, you know it now, rather than after investing hours in a rambling first draft. So now just keep growing the story.
Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends. This is a lot of fun, and at the end of the exercise, you have a pretty decent one-page skeleton of your novel. What matters is that you are growing the ideas that will go into your story. You are expanding the conflict.
You should now have a synopsis suitable for a proposal, although there is a better alternative for proposals. Step 5 Take a day or two and write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters. As always, feel free to cycle back to the earlier steps and make revisions as you learn cool stuff about your characters. Editors love character synopses, because editors love character-based fiction.
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Step 6 By now, you have a solid story and several story-threads, one for each character. Now take a week and expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis. Basically, you will again be expanding each paragraph from step 4 into a full page. This is a lot of fun, because you are figuring out the high-level logic of the story and making strategic decisions.
Here, you will definitely want to cycle back and fix things in the earlier steps as you gain insight into the story and new ideas whack you in the face. Step 7 Take another week and expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character. The standard stuff such as birthdate, description, history, motivation, goal, etc. Most importantly, how will this character change by the end of the novel?
This is an expansion of your work in step 3and it will teach you a lot about your characters. This is good — great fiction is character-driven. When you have finished this process, and it may take a full month of solid effort to get hereyou have most of what you need to write a proposal. If you are a published novelist, then you can write a proposal now and sell your novel before you write it. Step 8 You may or may not take a hiatus here, waiting for the book to sell. Before you do that, there are a couple of things you can do to make that traumatic first draft easier.
And the easiest way to make that list is. For some reason, this is scary to a lot of writers. You learned to use a word-processor. You need to make a list of scenes, and spreadsheets were invented for making lists. If you need some tutoring, buy a book. There are a thousand out there, and one of them will work for you.
It should take you less than a day to learn the itty bit you need. Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another wide column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene.
My spreadsheets usually wind up being over lines long, one line for each scene of the novel. As I develop the story, I make new versions of my story spreadsheet. This is incredibly valuable for analyzing link story. It can take a week to make a good spreadsheet. When you are done, you can add a new column for chapter numbers and assign a chapter to each scene.
Switch back to your word processor and begin writing a narrative description of the story. Take each line of the spreadsheet and expand it to a multi-paragraph description of the scene. Put in any cool lines of dialogue you think of, and sketch out the essential conflict of that scene. I used to write either one or two pages per chapter, and I started each chapter on a new page.
Then I just printed it all out and put it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily swap chapters around later or revise chapters without messing up the others. This process usually took me a week and the end result was a massive page printed document that I would revise in red ink as I wrote the first draft. All my good ideas when I woke up in the morning got hand-written in the margins of this document. This, by the way, is a rather painless way of writing that dreaded detailed synopsis that all writers seem to hate. When I did this step, I never showed this synopsis to anyone, least of all to an editor — it was for me alone.
I liked to think of it as the prototype first draft. Imagine writing a first draft in a week! Step 10 At this learn more here, just sit down and start pounding out the real first draft of the novel. You will be astounded at how fast the story flies out of your fingers at this stage. I have seen writers triple their fiction writing speed overnight, while producing better quality first drafts than they usually produce on a third draft.
You might think that all the creativity is chewed out of the story by this time. Well, no, not unless you overdid your analysis when you wrote your Snowflake. This is supposed to be the fun part, because there are i want to write my own novel small-scale logic problems to work out here. This is the time to figure it out! So you only have to solve a limited set of problems, and so you can write relatively fast.
Continue reading stage is incredibly fun and exciting. I have heard many fiction writers complain about how hard the first draft is. Life is too short to write like that! There is no reason to spend hours writing a wandering first draft of your novel when you can write a solid one in Counting the hours it takes to do the design documents, you come out way ahead in time.
About midway through a first draft, I usually take a breather and fix all the broken parts of my design documents. Yes, the design documents are not perfect. The design documents are not fixed in concrete, they are a living set of documents that grows as you develop your novel. If you are doing your job right, at the end of the first draft you will laugh at what an amateurish piece of junk your original design documents were. My attitude is that if it works for you, then use it. If only parts of it work for you, then use only those parts.
I write my own novels using the Snowflake method. For a long time, I did it the hard way, using Microsoft Word to write the text and Microsoft Excel to manage the list of scenes.
Unfortunately, neither of those tools knows about the structure of fiction. Finally, I realized that it would be a whole lot easier to work through the continue reading if the tools were designed specially for fiction. So one day I decided to create that software. I wanted something that would automate every step that could be automated. The result was a commercial software package I call Snowflake Pro. Snowflake Pro makes the Snowflake method fast, easy, and fun.
It runs on Macs, Windows, and Linux. Ways To Use The Snowflake Are you struggling right now with a horrible first draft of your novel that just seems hopeless? Take an hour and summarize your story in one sentence. Does that clarify things?
What have you got to lose, except a horrible first draft that you already hate? In fifteen words or less, what would you say? This is a thought game. What would you say?
You might think that all the creativity is chewed out of the story by this time. Tim Weikle Yea, I write close to the same way, i have the big picture in mind and make the little pieces of the story fall into place with it or let those little pieces change the direction the book is going completely. For example, a girl can be returning home for her father's funeral, and the reader may not know why this is going to lead to a major conflict momentarily. Jason June 10, at 1: Maybe start with fixing that…but keep writing anyway.
If you can come up with an answer in the next hour. Do you think some of the other steps might help you put some order into that manuscript? Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Have you just got a nightmarishly long letter from your editor detailing all the things that are wrong with your novel? Are you wondering how you can possibly make all the changes before your impossible deadline?
How about if you take a week and drill through all the steps right now? And I bet the book will come out better than you imagined. You can reach me through the contact page on my web-site. I thank my many friends on the Chi Libris list and especially Janelle Schneider for a large number of discussions on the Snowflake and much else. Best regards, Randy Ingermanson, Ph. Want to Know More About the Snowflake Method?
Check out my latest best-selling book, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. This book is a different kind of teaching tool. It uses a story to SHOW you how to write a novel, rather than to TELL you how to write a novel. I used the Snowflake Method to help me write the book, and at the end, you get to see the Snowflake document I created for the book, exactly the way I wrote it. If you learn best by seeing examples, you might like this book.
The only thing blocking her is herself. Available in paper and in e-book.