Friday, August 17, 2012


I have a friend who is writing an epic novel. It is a novel of such breadth and complexity that he has been struggling with it for a few years now. Where to start? How to pull it together? Trying to tame this behemoth has nearly stymied his creativity. But recently he's started to get a handle on it. And he credits 'The Snowflake' method as the key.

It's an interesting idea - originator of the concept, Randy Ingermanson, explains - "For a number of years, I was a software architect designing large software projects. I write novels the same way I write software, using the "snowflake metaphor" 

It's all about building your novel up, brick by brick by brick, before you even put a word of the actual novel down. For example, Step One is to "write a one-sentence summary of your novel." Step Two is "expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel." And so on.

I was horrified when my friend told me about it. Because there are ten steps. By step eight you are writing a scene by scene spreadsheet of the entire novel. Ingermanson claims that most of his step eights run to 100 lines on his spreadsheet... All this before you write a word of your story.

It felt to me like you'd have practically written two novels by the time you were finished. But I guess the results will speak for themselves. And my friend is now on chapter five and making good progress.

As for me, I decided to try my own interpretation and spent a little time writing up a detailed chapter summary. And I'm delighted I did it - it given me a great road map for the novel and it makes it easier to sit down and get to the writing, I always know where I'm at and where I'm going.

Anyway, here is the guy's website, it's worth a read.  Snowflake

Some Advice

 When I'm feeling discouraged, when the novel just feels like too much, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

For more wonderful quotes, check out Writing Advice From Famous Authors