Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Snowflakes on my computer

No; it's not snowing outside. In fact, at the moment it's not even raining though it was five minutes ago (this is Portland). But there are snowflakes growing in my computer and if my writing's somewhat incoherent it's probably due to the shock of finally starting to get organized.

I went to a writing conference a few years back and one of the speakers was Randy Ingermanson. He was really good - a fun speaker, with lots of great ideas, very down to earth and practical (unless you count his ambition to achieve Total World Domination, but perhaps that's not impossible either.)

One of his very practical suggestions was a talk about the Snowflake method of writing a novel. It appealed to me - reminded me of teaching Snowflake curves to elementary school-kids back in England. And it made great sense as a way to grow an idea into a novel, with all the details of character and plot filling themselves in along the way (along the edges) - the perfect solution to my meandering tales that suddenly thunder off to wild conclusions. But it involved being organized - keeping documents and files in the right places, remembering to update them, having the right ones available... If you know me you'll know being organized is not my strongest suit.

Anyway, I heard yesterday that "the Snowflake Guy," i.e. Randy Ingermanson, has come up with the perfect solution for someone like me. Snowflake Pro - a computer program that organizes all that random data for me, giving me access from one simple screen on my desktop. So now there's snowflakes growing in my computer - one for each of the novel's I've written or am writing. Characters will keep the same color eyes, plots will move forwards instead of backwards and sideways, and I'll balance my scenes far more carefully between crises and resolutions. It's just what I needed and I love it! Thank you Snowflake Guy!

Oh yeah, and it's just started to rain again.


Helen Ginger said...

Tell me more about Snowflake and Snowflake Pro. This is the first I've heard of it. Does it gather the info for you? Do you input it?

Straight From Hel

Sheila Deeth said...

You start with a title (plus genre, expected length, audience etc), then a one sentence description; expand to a paragraph; expand each sentence in the paragraph etc... Meanwhile there's intermediate tabs where you input characters and character descriptions which you expand to character synopses... There's lecture notes (and audio) on each tab to help point you in the right direction. Eventually you compile a list of scenes, with POV, summaries etc... and finally create a proposal from what you've done.

I'm using it to analyze my last WIP at the moment, and it's great at giving me a way to see who I used where, which characters got lost en route, etc.

If you follow the link you'll see some screenshots to give you the idea.

Sun Singer said...

Hmmm, I think maybe I'm afraid of getting organized.


maryrussel said...

This sounds like a great tool for organizing characters and plots. Thank you for sharing the information.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Sounds good to me, Sheila, but, like Malcolm, I'm afriad of getting "snowed in."