This is the third blog of an ongoing series detailing how I go about my writing process. This is here to help those people who are trying to find advice on how to get started themselves or for experienced writers looking for fresh ideas. My process may not work for everyone and I encourage every writer to find the process that works best for them, whatever that may be.
So you have your idea and you now know what genre you are going to write and how long it should be. Good work! You have taken your first step in writing your novel and you’ve made more progress than the sea of dreamers out there in the world. The next step (and one of my personal favorite) is to start adding some details to your idea. The idea is to flesh out your idea to the point you have something to work with when you actually do put pen to paper (your fingers to keyboard these days).
Snowflakes and Outlines
When I first set out to write my first novel, I hit the internet for ideas cause surely someone had put up their own ideas on how to get started and how to organize the head fill of ideas that I had. Now I am organizational kind of guy. I need to have all my ideas organized for easy reference and so it is easier for me to make changes when I end of changing something further down the line.
During my search across the internet, I came across The Snowflake Method developed by Randy Ingermanson and his ideas struck a chord with me. It was presented as very organized, flexible, and customizable which I liked a lot and you may find something that you like within it. While I don’t follow all of the steps of the Snowflake Method, I use what works for me. What I will be presenting is my own way of using the Snowflake Method.
Step 1: The Hook
The first step in designing your story is to write a one sentence summary of the whole story. This sentence should be your overall story reduced down to its simplest idea (kind of like what we developed in the first blog when dreaming up our idea). The novel that I wrote (Prince of the Dawn) used this summary: “A young prince comes out of hiding to reclaim his kingdom from an evil empire.” You can see that this hook is simple, to the point and you get the general idea of what the story is and serves as the core of your organization. Everything that you detail out from here should flesh out and support the hook.
Step 2: The Short, Short Version
Once you have your hook, it is time to expand upon it. Next you want to write a single paragraph with each sentence covering each major event or act in your story. It can be as long or as short as you need it to be to layout the overall story structure. My paragraph ended up being five sentences that covered each major plot event that happened in the book and it served well as a baseline for the direction of the story. Feel free to add some details at this point, but don’t go crazy with it. Major character names should show up and maybe some names of prominent places, basically enough information that you can see a clear beginning, middle and end to the story.
Keep in mind that this is all rough draft writing. Your story can and will change over the course of writing your novel. The first version of my paragraph looks a lot different from how the final novel turned out. That is ok, what looked and sounded good in the beginning could turn out to not so good in the overall story. The paragraph is a guide, be flexible with it.
Next time, we will cover expanding your single paragraph and character creation. Until then, keep writing!