this is not the format you are looking for…

So I’m unsure if the Snowflake Method is not for me, or I’m not working out for the method. I’m having a really hard time getting past the first couple of steps. Here’s an example of what I’ve been doing:

1. Write a one-sentence summary of your novel.

An executioner must face the ghosts of those he’s killed.

2. Expand this sentence into a paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.

An executioner suddenly finds himself faced with ghosts of those who he has killed. His conscience is prodded by a young teenager accused of murder, an woman who stole food for her family and a traitor to his country. (Somehow these should be metaphorical. hmmm.. what’s the twist?)

This one example is a spot-on representation of the other ideas I came up with. I just get stuck and can’t seem put a coherent story behind the plot line. Is my initial summary to vague? Maybe I just need more time to hash it out, but the method mentioned only spending an hour on each of these steps.

Anyone out there with ideas, I’m happily accepting them!


0 thoughts on “this is not the format you are looking for…”

  1. I’m not going to make any attempt at writing a novel, and never have… so this may have no value to you. That’s fine. I’ll try to help anyway.

    There’s a lot you can do with that 1 sentence premise that will expand the story. Maybe your problem is trying to put more detail into the sentence, instead of taking a step back and getting the bigger picture. For example, “the executioner must face the ghosts of those he’s killed.” Why is that significant? It’s implied that there is some meaning or emotion behind him facing his ghosts… but what exactly is it? That meaning will be based on whatever values or beliefs held by you and/or the executioner, and once you identify those values or beliefs, you can question them and test them.

    For example, how might some of his executioner buddies feel in the same situation, based on their own values? Or how do other cultures feel about communicating with ghosts? What are some of the possible outcomes of this situation?

    I may not be understanding the snowflake method, but an hour seems like plenty of time: spend 45 minutes asking as many questions as you can think of about that 1 sentence, 10 minutes evaluating your answers and asking more questions about those answers, and the paragraph itself should just write itself in the last 5 minutes, shouldn’t it?

    1. Thanks for the feedback Wes. I kept asking myself, “What is the purpose of the ghosts visiting the executioner?” and couldn’t come up with anything I liked. Maybe I was trying to force myself onto an idea that I didn’t care enough about.

      Appreciate your input, good sir.

  2. (Sorry to constantly be commenting, haha)

    I tried the snowflake method when I was planning my NaNoWriMo novel. It’s a cool mental exercise, but I found it was actually too much structure. I prefer to discuss the idea with friends, family, yourself and even compare it to similar ideas to see how other successful authors have structured their work. All writers have different tools in their boxes.

    I find ideas are like children. When it first pops in your head, it’s an infant; squirming and puking and not really knowing what it’s doing. But as you let it grow, it becomes something more, it learns, it develops identity, it’s bones take shape, and it becomes an adult idea.

    You can write a much better synopsis after you’ve decided on your story arc. I, for example, sat down and over a few weeks wrote down a sentence for each chapter in an outline format(this changed dramatically, but it was how I started).

    Then you can see that you at least have a narrative arc – a story – the true meaning of which can come as you write the body content. Meaning isn’t everything after all; you needn’t look farther than the Twilight series for proof.

    If the idea doesn’t seem to grow or you can’t make a story out of it, then it might be time to try something different.

    1. Hey Oliver, no need to apologize! I really appreciate you taking the time to pop in and add something to the conversation. I like what you’ve said here. I’ve found this works great for creating scenes. I think the problem I run into there is where to go from the scene.

      So I guess you could say I’m near hopeless. LOL. Not really though, just feels that way sometimes. I’m going to spend some significant time tonight just writing out scenes and hoping they lead me somewhere interesting.

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