The ProblemI'm writing a story. I've put in a few hours already, and I'm up to about 2500 words, but I'm still in the beginning. This is a problem because I'm used to writing very short stories and I still have a lot more story to go. This overwhelmed me.
|I was overwhelmed.|
When I wrote those stories before, I knew ahead of time that I was going to keep them short. Sometimes I had a specific word count target, sometimes I had a general word count target, sometimes I just had a distinct understanding of how long it should take the story to be told. This time, however, I don't have any of that. I'm writing a parody of stories like Divergent and The Hunger Games, so I've got a clear understanding of the big events and tropes of the story. I'm also refraining from limiting the size of the story. I'm going to let it be whatever it needs to be.
A side effect of this is, compared to my more recent projects, I'm doing a lot of writing but not getting very far. I was quite aware that this is to be expected, but I still felt like I was drowning.
While doing the Writers Digest Platform Challenge in October, I ran across the article, "The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel" by Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D. This article described an iterative approach to writing a novel. You begin with a single sentence describing what the story is about, then a paragraph fleshing out those ideas, then several paragraphs describing your characters, and eventually adding more and more levels of complexity until you end up with a novel. From a graphical perspective, Ingermanson describes the single-sentence step as a triangle, while the final product has become exponentially more complex at each side, resulting in a snowflake design.
|Ingermanson's Snowflake Illustration|
When I saw this the first time, I suspected this might be helpful for me since I have a bad habit of starting really cool writing projects, only to abandon them out of a sense of fatigue when the logistics of tracking details become too much for me to handle.
Where I Am Now
In one sitting, I went through the first two steps of the Snowflake Method--the one-sentence summary and the one-paragraph summary--and got knee deep into the third step, which fleshes out characters in detail by giving them their own one-sentence summary, motivations, goals, challenges, epiphanies, and ultimately a one-paragraph summary.
Before I started using the method, I had a clear understanding of what my story was going to do, but not much of an understanding of why. Now, I know the major players much better. I understand where the story is going next and why it feels like the beginning is taking so long to write (this is ok, it's not going to be a Very Short Story). Best yet, I have a much better understanding of how I'm going to tackle most of the big chunks of the story.
I'm looking forward to investigating the subsequent steps of the Snowflake Method. From what I can tell, it's really going to help me stay focused and not get lost in the details. This story might not be a novel in the end, but the principals behind this method still apply.
Then there's the fact that the story is a Christmas story. And I'm using the Snowflake Method to write it. Snow's usually associated with Christmas. Cuz it's Winter'n'stuff. And that's funny.