For some reason, this is scary to a lot of writers. Oh the horror. Deal with it. You learned to use a word-processor. Spreadsheets are easier. You need to make a list of scenes, and spreadsheets were invented for making lists. If you need some tutoring, buy a book.
There are a thousand out there, and one of them will work for you. It should take you less than a day to learn the itty bit you need. Do it. Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character.
In another wide column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene. My spreadsheets usually wind up being over lines long, one line for each scene of the novel.
As I develop the story, I make new versions of my story spreadsheet. This is incredibly valuable for analyzing a story. It can take a week to make a good spreadsheet. When you are done, you can add a new column for chapter numbers and assign a chapter to each scene. Step 9 Optional. Switch back to your word processor and begin writing a narrative description of the story.
Take each line of the spreadsheet and expand it to a multi-paragraph description of the scene. Put in any cool lines of dialogue you think of, and sketch out the essential conflict of that scene. I used to write either one or two pages per chapter, and I started each chapter on a new page. Then I just printed it all out and put it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily swap chapters around later or revise chapters without messing up the others.
This process usually took me a week and the end result was a massive page printed document that I would revise in red ink as I wrote the first draft. All my good ideas when I woke up in the morning got hand-written in the margins of this document. This, by the way, is a rather painless way of writing that dreaded detailed synopsis that all writers seem to hate.
When I did this step, I never showed this synopsis to anyone, least of all to an editor — it was for me alone. I liked to think of it as the prototype first draft. Imagine writing a first draft in a week! Step 10 At this point, just sit down and start pounding out the real first draft of the novel. You will be astounded at how fast the story flies out of your fingers at this stage.
I have seen writers triple their fiction writing speed overnight, while producing better quality first drafts than they usually produce on a third draft. You might think that all the creativity is chewed out of the story by this time. Well, no, not unless you overdid your analysis when you wrote your Snowflake. This is supposed to be the fun part, because there are many small-scale logic problems to work out here.
This is the time to figure it out! So you only have to solve a limited set of problems, and so you can write relatively fast. This stage is incredibly fun and exciting. I have heard many fiction writers complain about how hard the first draft is.
Good grief! Life is too short to write like that! There is no reason to spend hours writing a wandering first draft of your novel when you can write a solid one in Counting the hours it takes to do the design documents, you come out way ahead in time.
About midway through a first draft, I usually take a breather and fix all the broken parts of my design documents. Yes, the design documents are not perfect. The design documents are not fixed in concrete, they are a living set of documents that grows as you develop your novel.
If you are doing your job right, at the end of the first draft you will laugh at what an amateurish piece of junk your original design documents were. My attitude is that if it works for you, then use it. If only parts of it work for you, then use only those parts. I write my own novels using the Snowflake method.
For a long time, I did it the hard way, using Microsoft Word to write the text and Microsoft Excel to manage the list of scenes.
Unfortunately, neither of those tools knows about the structure of fiction. Finally, I realized that it would be a whole lot easier to work through the method if the tools were designed specially for fiction.
So one day I decided to create that software. I wanted something that would automate every step that could be automated. The result was a commercial software package I call Snowflake Pro. Snowflake Pro makes the Snowflake method fast, easy, and fun.
It runs on Macs, Windows, and Linux. Learn more about Snowflake Pro Ways To Use The Snowflake Are you struggling right now with a horrible first draft of your novel that just seems hopeless? Take an hour and summarize your story in one sentence.
Does that clarify things? What have you got to lose, except a horrible first draft that you already hate? Take heart! In fifteen words or less, what would you say? Take your time! This is a thought game. What would you say? If you can come up with an answer in the next hour. Do you think some of the other steps might help you put some order into that manuscript?
Give it a shot. What have you got to lose? Have you just got a nightmarishly long letter from your editor detailing all the things that are wrong with your novel? Are you wondering how you can possibly make all the changes before your impossible deadline? How about if you take a week and drill through all the steps right now? And I bet the book will come out better than you imagined. You can reach me through the contact page on my web-site.
Acknowledgments: I thank my many friends on the Chi Libris list and especially Janelle Schneider for a large number of discussions on the Snowflake and much else. Best regards, Randy Ingermanson, Ph. This book is a different kind of teaching tool. I used the Snowflake Method to help me write the book, and at the end, you get to see the Snowflake document I created for the book, exactly the way I wrote it.
If you learn best by seeing examples, you might like this book. The only thing blocking her is herself. Available in paper, e-book, and audiobook at these fine retailers: About The Author Randy Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels. He has taught at numerous writing conferences over the years and publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine.
Translations of This Article. Home Free Members FAQs Free Paper Snowflake Patterns and Images This page links to scanned images of over paper snowflakes that have been cut out of ordinary writing paper or computer paper with small scissors and also provides some sample patterns that you can print and cut out to create your own snowflakes.
You can also view photos of some of our Christmas trees decorated with paper snowflakes. I have also added cutting files for one of the patterns for use with computer controlled die cutters typically used in srcapbooking.
The snowflakes have been used to decorate our Christmas tree, windows, furniture, and doorways during the Christmas season for the last 35 years or so. Each Christmas we make a few more to add to our collection.Writing a good novel is hard. Frankly, there paper a thousand different people out writing who can tell you free to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods. The best snowflake for you is the one that works for you.
This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.
This is an expansion of your work in step 3 , and it will teach you a lot about your characters. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Take your time!
Things just get worse and worse.