Snowflake Method – Post Mortem

I realize I never put a cap on the Snowflake Method series I was writing.  That’s largely because I’ve put the project on hold for a little while.  As I got into the steps of the Snowflake Method, it became apparent to me that I didn’t really have a plot that I could outline, even in simple terms.  I have a compelling (for me) premise, but my grasp on the world and the characters is rather weak.

In reading over the outline of the Snowflake Method, I mistakenly thought that this would come to me as I wrote.  That was foolish hope, of course, but it was worth trying out.  Through NaNoWriMo and the Snowflake Method, I’ve learned more about writing fiction than through all the schooling I’ve had.  The most important thing I’ve learned: I’m not ready to write a novel just yet.  If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right, not just fill pages with random words.  A page of writing that has no intention of surviving edits is no better than a blank page.

As such, I decided to take a break and read a book I was supposed to read back in my first run through college, ten years ago: Story, by Robert McKee.  It’s a book aimed at screenwriters, but writing fiction is writing fiction, and nearly all of the lessons contained within apply across the board.  I won’t go into the specifics of what I took away from the book, with the exception of the final lesson.

Near the very end, McKee talks about the process of writing.  What he recommends is almost exactly the same thing as the Snowflake Method, only laid out in broad strokes.  He says start small, build an overall outline, an act by act outline, a scene by scene outline.  When you’ve finished the outlines, you should be able to finish the screenplay incredibly quickly.

The trick, though, is that the work is all front-loaded.  He says it may take only a month to write the outlines and the screenplay, but that’s preceded by five months of note-taking and napkin-scribbling about characters, plots and the world of the film.  And that’s the part that I’m missing.  I tried to skip straight to the outlines, not really considering that I might need a bit more preparation, thinking that everything would come together as I write.  When McKee wrote about time spent taking notes and saying “Here’s a random idea.  Here’s an interesting character.  Here’s a piece of world.  Here’s how things might happen midway,” a light when on above my head.

Here is a path I can follow.  Here is what I was missing from NaNoWriMo and the Snowflake Method.  So, I’m in note taking mode.  I’ve got my NEO, for when long ideas strike me, and I’ve got a stack of index cards tossed in my bag for the small ideas.  When my story is more coherent, and my world better formed in my mind, I’ll return to the outlines, and maybe I’ll get a novel (or possibly a screenplay) out of this premise yet.

Written by StingRay in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

NaNoWriMo – A Wildly Successful Failure

So, November is over, and so is NaNoWriMo.  Well, it is for me, anyway.  Technically, there’s about eleven more hours to go before November comes to a close and the final word count has to be entered into the system, but I’m going to sleep and going to work pretty much immediately after waking up.

How’d I do?  Depends on how you look at it. (more…)

Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo | Tags: , , , , , , ,

NaNoWriMo Thoughts – 2/3 Done

So, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, which is part of the reason why I’ve not updated this page, nor recorded any podcast episodes, nor participated in any of the online stuff I was participating in prior to November.  Another reason is that my computer’s hard drive died completely, and I’ve been sharing a computer with my wife.  Oh, and my sister-in-law had her baby at the end of October, so nephew visiting has been going on.  And work.  And…. anyway!

In October, a number of people expressed their… objections to NaNoWriMo.  They made a few valid points that I’m seeing in action right now.  50,000 words isn’t really a novel.  The NaNo peeps focus far too much on reaching that 50,000 word goal.  They also ask for a lot of money.  I concede all these points, however, I still think NaNoWriMo is a good thing, so long as you keep a few things in mind. (more…)

Written by StingRay in: NaNoWriMo | Tags: , , ,

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