“How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method” by Randy Ingermanson

 

A unique writing guide that utilises an informal conversational style and fairytale characters, presenting the information as a parable with Goldilocks as the central character of an aspiring author looking for guidance in writing her first novel. While Papa Bear’s outlining method and Mama Bear’s organic or ‘seat-of-the-pants’ method don’t suit Goldilocks at all, Baby Bear’s ‘Snowflake Method’ is just right.

The first great advice of this book, however, is that every writer is different, and no method is perfect for everyone. As Baby Bear tells his writing class:

“This is important, you novelists! You’re going to get lots of advice on how to write a novel. But that’s all it is. Advice. If you don’t like that advice, if it doesn’t work for you, then ignore it. If it does work for you, then run with it.” P. 47

Excerpt From: Ingermanson, Randy. “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.” DitDat, Inc. iBooks.

This book is entertaining and informative, and has made me look at my own novel writing process in a completely different light, helping to fill in some problematic areas, clarify my ideas, and to give the whole storyline a firmer sense of direction and purpose.

The Snowflake Method alternates between focusing on character and plot with each step, in order to ensure that the story remains balanced as it develops. Using a series of ten steps, the Snowflake Method helps the writer to develop their story from a basic one-sentence premise to a detailed list of scenes, gradually adding more layers to each aspect of character and plot until you have a completed road map for your novel.

Along the way, “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method” also includes plenty of practical advice that is related in an engaging manner. Consider the examples below.


On the Three-Act Structure:

“Your reader wants all of those things. Excitement. Decisions. New directions. And they want those on a regular schedule. Which means you need to schedule them.”       P. 59

“But if you look at stories that work, stories that move people’s emotions, they’re often divided into four parts, with a major disaster between each part.” P. 59

“What we’ve learned is called the Three-Act Structure, although I sometimes like to call it the Three-Disaster Structure. Designing your Three-Act Structure is the second step of the Snowflake Method, and I like to do it in one paragraph of five sentences.” P. 68.

Excerpts From: Ingermanson, Randy. “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.” DitDat, Inc. iBooks.


On writing villains: 

“The strength of your story is set by the strength of your villain,” Baby Bear said. “Strong villain, strong story. Weak villain, weak story. And you have a very weak villain.” P. 109

“Great villains needed to be three-dimensional.” P. 117

“And I realized that everybody, even the worst villain, sees themselves as the hero of their story” P. 122

Excerpts From: Ingermanson, Randy. “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.” DitDat, Inc. iBooks.


On revising and backtracking:

“There’s nothing wrong with backtracking,” Baby Bear said. “It’s essential, in fact. All writers backtrack. It’s just a matter of how much they have to backtrack.” P. 137

“The reason Snowflakers love the Snowflake Method is because they do a lot of their backtracking early, on small pieces of work. Which means that they don’t have to do much backtracking later, when it’s ballooned out to a four-hundred-page manuscript.” Pp. 140-141

Excerpts From: Ingermanson, Randy. “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.” DitDat, Inc. iBooks.

Finally, my favourite quote from the book:

There are many other gems of wisdom in this rather unconventional book of writing advice, and I would recommend it to any writer. Whether you are an aspiring or established novelist, there is something in “How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method” for you.

Available in multiple formats from a variety of stores (I purchased my copy from iBooks) for a very reasonable price.

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