Jan
06
2009
2

Snowflake – Novel Questions

Fraser Ronald of the Accidental Survivors podcast and Sword’s Edge Publishing has given me some thoughts on the chapter I posted earlier.  Since this project is as much about exploring and exposing the writing process as it is about getting the novel written, I thought I’d post my thoughts here.  (Okay, maybe “as much” implies a little too much emphasis taken away from the goal of finishing the novel, but exploring the process is still a goal of mine.)

Fraser wrote:

As a global, this chapter does what it needs to do as a first chapter. I am situated in the setting. Here’s what I understand the setting to be: Late 18th, early 19th century type setting with airships. Temperate climate. Pseudo-European culture. And monsters come at night.

If I’m wrong about any of that, it means the chapter didn’t work as well as I thought it did. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized |
Jan
04
2009
0

Snowflake Step 4: Plot Expansion (or, How Not to Write a Plot Synopsis)

So, it’s been a while, and I’ve got little to show for it.  Allow me to post what I have, then I’ll explain what happened.

Crynn saves Becca’s son, Erik, from a Crawler attack.  
Becca is almost caught with Cara in her home when Crynn shows up to tell her about Erik.  
Cara, ejected from the house ahead of schedule, wanders the town trying to avoid people while waiting for her rendezvous time, when a rival pirate gang attacks.
Crynn goes out to help fight off the pirates, and catches sight of Cara during the fight, but is unable to find her afterwards.
Becca uses one of her new inventions to destroy one of the pirate ships.
Cara escapes to her own ship, and begins planning retribution against the rival gang.
Crynn and Becca are debriefed about the attacks, and Crynn is assigned to hunt down the pirates.
Becca returns home and discovers that one of her inventions was stolen during the raid.
Cara has to deal with new crew members, as well as her second in command, who wants more technology before making any moves.
Crynn confronts Becca about information and inconsistencies that came to light during their debriefing that leads him to suspect she knows about Cara.
Becca tries to join Crynn in his search for Cara and the pirate attackers, and has to deal with her son.
Cara attacks the rival pirates, and is betrayed and captured. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized |
Dec
17
2008
0

Facing the Elephant in the Room

You’ll notice this isn’t step 4 of the Snowflake Method.  Part of that is due to family obligations and insanity at work (it is Christmas at Walmart, after all), but the other part is that I’d simply been having issues expanding my paragraph into a page.  I think I’ve figured out how I want to do it, and whatnot, but, now that I’m sitting down to write, I find that my mind keeps returning to a conversation I had with my mother yesterday.

Yesterday morning we finally addressed the elephant that’s been following us for the last ten years.  It started as we were talking about my brother.  He’s turned out a lot like my abusive, alcoholic father, and about a year ago, we pretty much had to kick him out of the family.  It’s a long, probably boring story, but the short of it is that he was manipulative and deceptive and felt it was his right to take advantage of my mother every which way. (more…)

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Dec
09
2008
0

(Writing) Rules I (Want To) Live By

I recently started reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, and I’m trying to read it critically, trying to learn something from the writing within the book rather than just read for enjoyment.  I’m not that good at it.  However, that’s not what this post is about, because I did learn something early on.

In the third chapter, Ned meets the king, who has gone from being a fearsome, muscular warrior to a fat mess.  Martin spends nearly a page and a half describing the thoughts Ned has, describing the look of the king now versus then, and even throwing in a few historical details to boot.  All of this happens within practically no time at all from the character’s perspective.

Why is this significant?  Well, my writing has shifted to more of a real-time feel.  I get it in my head that I can’t spend a lot of time describing something or focussing on anything because my characters don’t have that much time to spend.  The reader should spend no more time on an action than the character spends on that action.

That doesn’t quite work, though, and I look back over my writing and chastise myself because there’s not enough detail.  I rush through, and that’s bad, but something in my subconscious seems to think that’s the way it works.

So, I’ve decided to look at this as a game, D&D to be exact.  In D&D, speaking isn’t considered to take up any time during combat, and I think that’s applicable to writing.  Description need not take up any time in regards to the characters.  Thus, the first writing rule I want to live by:

Description is a free action.

We’ll see if this approach helps with the need to rush through the details.

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Written by StingRay in: Writing Rules |
Dec
07
2008
0

NaNoWriMo – 2765 Words

Exhaustion yesterday and wife-time today have put a damper on finishing up the next Snowflake step.  However, I’ve been considering tossing the fruits of my NaNoWriMo labor up here, so what better time than now?

Be warned.  This, like the first chapter of my Snowflake story, is an incredibly rough draft.  I wrote it quickly and I have not edited it.  Cliche’s, word errors and passive voice may be present.  There may even be an author’s note or two.  (At the end of the chapter, “Caldesor” was originally “LANDYLAND” because I couldn’t remember the name of the country.)  However, I don’t remember being entirely disgusted with the first 5000 or so words of NaNo, so you may find it entertaining, if rough.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Ellora Sunstrider wrenched her sword from the orc’s skull. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo |
Dec
05
2008
0

Snowflake Step Three Point Two (or, One and A Half Women)

 

Name:  Cara Thompson

One-Sentence Description:  Cara is a ruthless and determined pirate captain whose reputation is such that few are willing to cross her.

Motivation (Abstract):  anger and revenge against society, greed

Goal (Concrete):  Evade capture, become wealthy, poke at society.

Conflict:  She’s using Becca, but is also starting to have genuine feelings for her; family issues related to Crynn; she’s a pirate

Epiphany:  She shifts from simply wanting to hurt the society that shunned her to wanting to change it.

One-Paragraph Storyline Summary:  Cara is in town, visiting Becca when a rival gang of pirates attack.  She joins the townspeople in beating back the attack, working especially to keep them from Becca’s workshop, then makes her way back to her ship with a new (something).  Angry about the attack, she sets out with her crew to exact a little pirate justice on the offenders.  After dispatching the problem pirates, she heads back to a free port where she is confronted by her brother.  Cue chase, Crawlers, cooperation, capture, change.

***

Name:  Becca McCreedy

One-Sentence Description:  Becca is an engineer and tinkerer of great renown who has lost several children to the Crawlers.

Motivation (Abstract):  Curiosity, love for the Thompsons, hatred of the Crawlers

Goal (Concrete):  Learn about and destroy the Crawlers, reunite with Cara

Conflict:  She’s feeding her tech to Cara, she still has feelings for Crynn, her relationship with Cara can get her jailed and sharing technology can be considered treason

Epiphany:  She learns to focus on more than just her latest invention, and sees the problems in the system around her.

One-Paragraph Storyline Summary: ??? (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized |
Dec
05
2008
0

Snowflake Metastep (or, Thoughts On My Progress, ‘Cuz I’m Stuck In the Process)

My little, personal project has expanded a bit over the past couple days, and I wanted to take a minute to write about them.  Plus, I’m stuck on trying to write out the character pages from my other two protagonists.  They’re in my head, somewhere, I can feel it, but I can’t seem to be able to find them at the moment.  Maybe if I ignore them, they’ll get lax in their hiding and I can catch them unaware.

So, the first expansion of this project comes from Fraser Ronald of the always entertaining Accidental Survivors podcast, as well as Sword’s Edge Publishing.  He has started up the process on his own blog, and has been actively commenting on my progress, as well.  This is a collaboration (probably the wrong word) that will hopefully go however far we’re each willing to go.

The second development is more of a cool moment, than any sort of project expansion.  Randy Ingermanson, the developer of the Snowflake Method, and an author of several published novels, has commented on both of our blogs.  He responded to Fraser’s sentence summary, and cleared up some confusion I had about the lack of world-building in the Snowflake Method.  I think this is very cool, and whether he’s following our progress or just noticing links back to him, I give huge props to him for taking the time to leave feedback.

As for the questions and problems I’ve had crop up during this experiment, well, I simply hadn’t paid enough attention to site surrounding the Snowflake article.  Upon further inspection, one wherein I actually opened my eyes ( :-) ), I noticed Mr. Ingermanson has a number of lessons and articles for sale on that site.  The one concerning the Snowflake Method even includes examples and detailed descriptions.

Now, I get it.  And, once again, I think the author is owed some kudos.  I’ve seen a lot of websites that offer supposedly great lessons and plans, tease you with a step or two, and then put the meat of the information behind a dollar sign.  Not so with this site.  For me, the Method is the meat, and what’s provided is plenty to take me through the process.  Should I need some guidance or examples, those I have to pay for, and that’s cool.

So, thank you, Fraser, for joining me in this.  Thank you, Randy, for checking in.  And, thank you, whoever you may be, for stopping by.  Feel free to join us, if you’d like.  Now, I have some characters to pin down.

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized |
Dec
04
2008
3

Snowflake Step Null (or, A Little Bit of World Building All Night Long)

So, one thing I’m noticing as I go through this process is that the Snowflake Method doesn’t seem to have taken into consideration any need for world-building.  I’m not sure if this is an oversight on the part of Randy Ingermanson, the creator (or at least promoter) of the Snowflake Method, or if I’m just not seeing how world-building fits into the process.

Either way, I figure it’s important to lay out the history of the world the story takes place in, since this world is not our world.  I think the easiest way is to simple follow the outline provided by the rest of the Snowflake: start small, build up.  I’m in paragraph mode with the characters and the plot, so let’s hit paragraph mode with the world.

The end of the 19th century was a time of tremendous advances, and then the asteroid landed.  On board was an alien life form that mutated and evolved rapidly and quickly rivaled mankind in destructive power.  Humanity found itself ill-equipped to deal with the threat and was driven out to sea.  One hundred years later, the floating refugees have adapted to life on the sea, and have developed airships to allow for expeditions further and further inland during the daylight hours when the Crawlers are sleeping.  Society in the time following the exodus to sea became extremely strict to ensure survival, and those strictures have mostly survived. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,
Dec
04
2008
1

Snowflake Step Three Point One (or, Crynn Thompson, Captain)

So, step three has begun, and this step is focused on the characters.  This is also the point at which I wish I had an example to look at, which is part of why I’m doing this.  There are some questions that could be easily answered by some examples.  I’ll get into that more after the character briefing.

Name: Crynn Thompson

One-Sentence Storyline Description: Crynn comes from a long line of naval, and now aerial, men, and, while he’s driven by duty, he has a deep and abiding respect for his crew, as well as anyone who earns that respect.

Motivation (Abstract): Duty to Queen and country, love for Becca and his sister, regret over past decisions

Goal (Concrete): Win over Becca; capture or reform his sister; protect his home from the Crawlers and pirates

Conflict: Becca is in love with his sister, as well; sister despises the society that’s formed, thus making reform difficult, and piracy is a capital offense, making capture a death sentence for her; pirates don’t like to be defeated and Crawlers like to eat people

Epiphany: Crynn will shift from being very pro-establishment to wanting to see changes made

One-Paragraph Storyline Summary: Crynn saves Erik McCreedy from a Crawler attack with the help of his airship crew, but Erik loses his eye in the process.  Crynn feels obligated to deliver the news in person to Erik’s mother, Becca, with whom he had a torrid love affair in the past.  He then works to repel a pirate attack, and sees his sister, Cara, among the people fighting the pirates.  He loses track of her, but knows that she, too, is a pirate, and eventually discovers her again, leaving Becca’s.  Eventually, he discovers Becca’s relationship with Cara, and sets about pursuing Cara, despite his reservations.  He finds her in a pirate haven, and tries to reason with her.  When that fails, he escapes to his ship, then pursues Cara in hers.  The pursuit ranges inland as the sun is setting, and in the process of the chase, they awaken a hive of flying Crawlers which they run from.  The crawlers track them back to the floating city, and Crynn and Cara must work together to defend the city.  Somewhere in there, Crynn understands Cara’s reason for her rebellion, and, in the end, he refuses to turn her over, becoming a rebel himself. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Dec
03
2008
2

Snowflake Step Two (or, My Muse is a Sadist)

Step two of the Snowflake Method involves expanding the sentence into a paragraph.  For whatever reason, I found this to be ridiculously difficult.

Crynn Thompson is the captain of Her Majesty’s Air Ship DeVron, the fleet’s flagship, and he is also the head of the European Confederacy’s aerial navy.  After an accident a Crawler attack at a work site, he is reunited with his long-estranged lover, Becca McCreedy, whose son was injured in the accident attack.  She is secretly feeding information technology to her new lover, Cara Thompson, a pirate queen and Crynn’s sister.  Becca is torn by her love for each, and Crynn ultimately finds out about Cara’s whereabouts and sets out to capture her.  The pursuit lasts into the night and ends up over land, where the battling ships disturb a hive of flying Crawlers, which chase them back to town.  The pair trio then must work together to protect humanity. (more…)

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Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

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