Monday, March 16, 2015

Randy Ingermanson's 'The Snowflake Method'

This week, I'll try the 'The Snowflake Method' created by Randy Ingermanson.  He calls it the Snowflake Method because you  "start small and then build stuff up".  Sounds like a plan.  He's got a useful guide/article on his website.  Checkout the link:   The Snowflake Method

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lancaster Poppy Reserve

Today I went to the Lancaster Poppy Reserve State Park (about an hour's drive from Los Angeles).  The temperature was in the 90's (farenheit) and the poppies were in full bloom. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Results using Dan Wells' 7 Point Story Structure method

I've worked all week on creating an outline using this method.  As a recap,
the 7 point method consists of: (using the original Star Wars movie as an example

  • THE HOOK:  Hero has a sad boring life
  • Luke is a misunderstood farmboy who longs to be a pilot and go on adventures
  • PLOT TURN 1: Hero becomes a role
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi offers to teach Luke to become a Jedi
  • PINCH 1: A bad guy attacks
  • Luke's uncle and aunt and killed by imperial forces
  • MIDPOINT: The hero learns the truth, swears to defeat the villain
  • Luke decides he wants to be a Jedi like his father
PINCH 2: Companions fall to the villain and Hero is left alone
Obi-Wan is killed in a duel with Darth Vader

PLOT TURN 2: Hero discovers the power is within him
Luke uses the force to destroy the Death Star

RESOLUTION: Hero defeats the villain
Luke destroys the Death Star.

It seemed pretty straight-forward until I tried to use it.  Then things got confusing.  Like in the example above, isn't Plot Turn 2 and Resolution the same thing?  Also, I felt like I was trying to alter my story to fit into each of these 7 points.  Mine is a romance so I did a plot for both the hero and heroine and also did one for the best friend.  And what I noticed was that two of the three plots started to become identical (both of the males).  Not good. 

So I learned a lot through watching the videos and trying it out, but this is not the method for me. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dan Wells' Seven Point Plot structure

Today I tried out Dan Wells' Story Structure System.  It seemed like the most straightforward of all the methods to follow.  Maybe because all you need is seven point plots.

There is a series of 5 ten-minute YouTube videos which you can watch here:

Dan Wells on Story Structure

Basically, a novel has seven plot points:

  1. The Hook
  2. Plot Turn 1
  3. Pinch 1
  4. Midpoint
  5. Pinch 2
  6. Plot Turn 2
  7. Resolution
Works well for action/adventure, horror, superhero stories. The closest example to my YA novel he gave was the one for romance using Pride and Prejudice.  I'm not quite convinced that the plot turns and "pinches' worked for me..  But check it out.  It may suit you.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I went to critique group yesterday, Saturday.  I've been going for over 2 years now.  I looked around and I was the ONLY person from the original group 2 years ago.  Even the person who runs the group was different!  I benefitted greatly from going.  I learned how to critique, and also got great feedback. 

But, I think I've outgrown the group.  The 'originals' have all broken off into smaller groups (me included) and in my case, I feel like splinter group I'm in is more at my level of writing.  Actually, I think they're better than my level of writing.  I think that's a good thing, as I can always be striving to be as good as the rest of them. 

Anyway, the reason I went was because the topic of the little pre-critique talk was plotting.  It's something I'm not good at.  I've rewritten my work-in-progress a number of times but always get stuck at the same place -around page 50.  I'm determined to get past it this time by trying out all the different plotting methods and finding one that I can live with.

Friend and co-critique ND came to our little splinter critique group with an outline that was five pages! And he went through multiple families and had full names, ages, birthdates for all his characters and outlined his plot so thoroughly, I felt even I could write his story based on the outline.

Maybe that is the way I should think about it:  as if I had to give instructions to another person to write my story...

So I rushed to our local indie bookstore and picked up these two books:

  1. Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson - it looked like a length I could handle and anybody calling themselves 'plot whisperer' should probably know what she's doing, right?  that's my rationale.
  2. Ready. Set. Novel! by Christ Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart-Streit.  This is a workbook with lots of blank pages and cute illustrations.  I'm a sucker for these kinds of things so I picked it up.
The person giving our mini-lecture at big critique group also recommended the following.  These are more screenwriting oriented but hey, story structure is universal.

  1. Story by Robert McKee
  2. The 'Snowflake Method' source: Randy Ingermannson (not a book but a series of lectures?)
  3. The Writer's Compas by Nancy Ellen Dodd
  4. Something called the 7 point method.  I forgot to write down the source.  I'll find it...
I will be testing these out, seeing what works for me, what doesn't. Knowing me, If it requires a lot of reading, I probably won't do it.  But stay tuned.