I am not inviting more snow - honest! Heaven knows Saskatchewan has plu-plenty snowflakes. But there is one snowflake I would like to examine, and that is Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method of Writing. You may have heard about it but not examined it as it might apply to your work.
Pantsers, please hang in.
First of all, Randy Ingermanson is a physicist, award winning author and writing conference speaker. He freely admits the method is to make money. However, he displays the whole method on his webpage - for free! www.advancedfictionwriting.com.
The download costs money. The difference is, there are voice lectures you can choose to hear, lecture notes, help notes and templates for each step in the downloaded version. There is also mildlya special offer which gives you the download and his new help book Fiction Writing For Dummies. I haven't read the book yet. I am allergic to anything '....For Dummies'.
Your book is not written for you or for free - you do all the work. (Step ten is "write your novel") The method clarifies what you are doing - characterization, plot etc. By following all the steps, which are darn hard work - which part of writing isn't - you will find there are unexpected benefits. When you finish the first eight or nine steps (Step Nine is optional) you will have described your novel in one sentence, written your pitch, your synopsis and, after Step Ten, you will have written your first drat er draft. I can accept that!
Ingermanson emphasizes design before you write your novel. He says that character driven fiction doesn't flow from the brain to the gilded pen, but needs a design.
The 'Snowflake' itself comes in handy as an example of design as applicable to writing fiction. Actually, it is a heavy duty math/science sort of beast but it works well as an example to explain the method. It starts with a triangle, which I interpret as idea. By bending each straight line so that it has a triangle emerging from it, over and over and over, you will eventually have an outline of a snowflake. Fortunately, you don't have to do that! You don't even need to have done well at highschool physics to use this method of fiction writing. Thank heaven. The snowflake is an example of how the method works at building up your first draft.
I haven't tried it yet, but I intend to soon, probably with the ring story.
Randy Ingermanson is an unusually helpful man who shares what he has learned from experiences in his novel writing. He and I have emailed back and forth and he answered all my questions, even though one was not about the snowflake method.
While at his web page, you can sign up for a free ezine, which I have found worthwhile so far.
By reading comments from items on the Google menu page, (I entered Snowflake Method) I learned of another method you might like to check out, called the Liquid Story Binder at Blackobelisksoftware.com. I did get a phrase I like from the comments - 'analysis paralysis'.
That method has some interesting features such as hunting down words or phrases in your manuscript for you, and allows you to overlay pages to compare, take from, add revision markers and 25 other features I won't go into here. Its main point is that it lets you create your own writing environment. I suggest you have a look. It appears too complicated for my aging? lazy? self.
Would you try using a method? If you already do, what do you like and dislike about it? Which one do you use? Are there others you know about that we should look at?