It’s snowing at my house. No, we’re not experiencing unseasonably cold weather, and other than the occasional bird feather around my coop the ground isn’t turning white. I’ve been using the snowflake method of plot planning this week. I can hear you, “The snowflake method? And you make detailed plot plans in advance? Doesn’t that stifle your creativity?”
The Snowflake Method, as set out by Randy Ingermanson on his web site http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php is a step-by-step guide to learning who your characters are and where your story is going.
This past spring I worked on a bit of fiction where I really knew the characters and how they would react, and I knew my major plot points from beginning to end. Amazingly, I was writing three to six thousand words most days without breaking a sweat and my rough draft ended up being pretty clean and organized. That got me to thinking, if I had an advanced plan for my other writing, would I be able to write an entire novel in six weeks or less every time.
Could I do that without having to go back and rewrite the whole thing because I dropped story lines half-way through and my characters changed over time? To be honest, I usually lose steam about three-quarters of the way through because I’ve used the conflicts I originally planned, and haven’t developed anything for that last bit. So I decided to give this a try.
As Randy points out, it’s a fluid, living document, so even if I thoroughly work through step eight: writing a sentence for every planned scene, I can always change and shift the story as I go. Which is good, because you never know when your character is going to hijack the story and take it in a slightly different direction than you had planned.
Anyway, Now I’ve brainstormed ideas for that dangerous empty zone of the story, and I’ve begun detailing what I want to happen in each section, I’m working on more detailed character analysis than I’ve ever done. Hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be ready to tackle the serious editing my mess of a 270-page manuscript has become as I’ve worked on different plot ideas in different versions and haven’t finished integrating the old with the new. I’m choosing to see this as creating a new direction in my story instead of editing, since I’ve already established that I hate editing. Maybe that kind of outlook shift will work for motivating me to clean the kitchen. Hmmmm.