Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Snowflake Method - Step 3

Welcome to Step 3 of the Snowflake Method of writing.  If you've been following along so far, we've taken baby steps towards the completion of your novel.  In Step 1 of the Snowflake Method, we attempted to distill our story concept down into a single sentence of preferably not more than 15 words.  Tough to do, I know.  Then, in Step 2 of the Snowflake Method, you expanded that single sentence into a full paragraph of 4-5 sentences.  Congratulations, you've made great progress!

In Step 3 of the Snowflake Method, you will now switch gears a little bit and begin to focus on your characters.  But, at this point, we'll only be focused on your MAJOR characters; your MINOR characters will be addressed later on Step 5.  For this step, you will be filling in the following points for each major character:

* The character's name
* A one-sentence summary of the character's storyline
* The character's motivation (what does s/he want abstractly)
* The character's goal (what does s/he want concretely)
* The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching said goal)
* The character's epiphany (what will s/he learn, how will s/he change)
* A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline

I'm sure you're saying "Wow, you expect me to figure all of this out?"  Well, yes, that is the point!  The work you do now will help to make your story more vibrant, more real, more enjoyable - both to write AND to read.

Now, there are a couple of things at this point that may come up.  You may discover that as you fill out these character profiles that what you originally had from Steps 1 and 2 needs to be changed a little.  This is normal, and actually expected, with the Snowflake Method.  We aren't perfect people, and we learn from our experiences.  So as you make your way through the steps, be prepared to find yourself going back to revise things from earlier steps as you get deeper into your story.  The efforts you make now with these changes will only serve to make things much easier when you are finally at the point of writing your first draft.

Another thing to keep in mind, which I referenced a little just a moment ago, is that you won't have things perfect.  And they don't have to be!  The point of this whole exercise called the Snowflake Method is that it gets you to start putting these ideas down on paper, in a somewhat logical format, and to continually expand on them, building them up.  You will always have a chance to go back and change things, and at some points you'll have to because you'll discover that the action that you thought you would have your heroine perform in the dead of night - she can't, because she could be: a) dead, b) sleeping, c) somewhere else, d) it could be daytime, e) or any other number of things.

Now, for each of your major characters, you should expect to spend an hour, give or take, filling out the above points.  Hopefully you don't have a cast of thousands!  But again, these are important baby steps to get you to the point where many aspiring writers never get to:  The End!

Now, like my previous posts, I'll share with you my Step 3 from one of my major characters.  Enjoy!

Name: Sam “Sammy” Larson
Age: 25
1-Sentence storyline summary: Sammy loves a good adventure, and when a strange geocache shows up, he just has to investigate – consequences be damned.
Motivation: Answers to adventurous questions. He wants to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Goal: To have a great adventure that he can tell stories about for years to come
Conflict: His inquisitiveness sometimes is his undoing; he needs to be more cautious
Epiphany: To late, he realizes the foolishness of his actions, and how they affect his best friend
1-Paragraph storyline summary: Sammy heads out with his best friend John to do some deep-woods camping and geocaching. They are able to start geocaching that Friday evening, and Sammy is ecstatic, and a little creeped out, at what they find in the newly placed geocache that Sammy had discovered earlier before leaving home. Convincing John that they need to find out who put it there and why, Sammy proceeds to get himself trapped in what turns out to be an evil torture room. As he tries to escape, he makes his own situation worse while also endangering the life of his best friend. He realizes the irony of his greatest adventure...and the fact that he may never get to tell it.


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Darren Kirby said...

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