Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Working backwards is fun too

I've spent a while playing with my Snowflake Pro software and my first Hemlock book. It's going pretty well. So, for those friends who've not met the Snowflake Guy (Randy Ingermanson), here's a few notes...

1. The software downloads and installs really easily - always a plus.
2. The welcome page has a neat diagram of a snowflake, and quick explanation of its relevance to writing a novel. Basically, the idea is that your novel has a beginning middle and end - three sides, like a triangle. If you add a triangle sticking out from the middle of each side, and another triangle sticking from the middle of each resulting side, etc... you end up with a snowflake. Meanwhile you're adding ideas to your one-sentence summary and turning it into a novel.
3. There's access to lecture notes and a spoken lecture at each stage of the program, to help you know what you're doing and why. And Randy's a really good speaker.
4. So, after doing the basics - title, genre, audience, expected word-count, author bio etc. - Snowflake Pro invites you to write that dreaded "one sentence summary." In my case, with the novel already written, finding a way to describe it in one sentence is something I really need, or how will I sell it.
5. Next, you expand the sentence into a paragraph. 5 sentences now - setup, 1st disaster (1st act of a 3-act novel); then 2nd and 3rd disasters (act 2); then conclusion (act 3)... and then into several paragraphs for the synopsis. Organized writers plan their novels at the start I suppose, but working backwards is fun too.
6. Just before writing the synopsis Snowflake asks you to list the characters. This is the part I'm really enjoying - what are their abstract goals; what are their goals in this particular novel (I'm writing a series - I can even add notes about how their goals will change). There's space for one-sentence summaries of the characters and one-paragraph descriptions.
7. On a later page Randy's created a whole long list of questions about each character. At last, a place where I can store hair color, eye color, height, fashion sense etc... I can even imagine what their favorite books are then scatter them on the shelves; what are their hobbies? What does their house look like? Again, I've already written the first two books. I have files full of notes about who's who and where they live, but this way I put all my notes in one place, and when I start editing (next job) I'll have everything to hand.
8. Soon I'll start work on the scene list. This time I really will be working backwards, deconstructing the scenes as I edit and writing (again) one-sentence summaries. With space to remind myself whose point of view I'm using, a record of page-length to help me avoid overlong and overshort scenes, this should be really helpful.
9. At the end of it all, the summaries I've typed in earlier will be used to create my book proposal...
10. ...by which time it will probably be snowing.

So that's a one-paragraph summary of Snowflake Pro, and so far it's just what I needed. Thanks Randy.


Helen Ginger said...

Is the idea that people will use this before they write the book? So, without having written the book, they will lay it out scene by scene? That sounds so difficult. I usually know in general how it's going to go, but not each and every scene to get there.

Straight From Hel

Sun Singer said...

I wonder if this software would force me to become organized.

Frightening thought.


maryrussel said...

Sounds like something I could really use.