Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing by snowflake

"Remanence" is done, more or less, but I'm not exactly thrilled. Problem the first and the ultimate: the character and story development of Remanence is, though different in form, identical in substance to the last novel I wrote.

This might be alright if I developed thoroughly interesting characters, and a story arc for them that proves satisfying and perhaps a little ingenuous. But I don't. My novel ends this way:

"Everything explodes, everyone dies, a few characters emerge from the ashes, the sun rises again."

Now, despite that being, generally, my worldview, it's not really a good premise for a story. Or, at least, I don't find it satisfying - not the way I gather everything together towards the finale and ram it together. But the problem is that this is exactly what happens when I discovery-write - even when I discovery-write short stories.

So, I'm done with discovery writing - at least for now. And only in the sense that I'm done with starting stories with only a general schema of what's to occur and who it's to occur to. I've learned a lot of important and useful skills by discovery-writing over the past however-many-months, and I'll continue to employ the elements I liked (viz., writing digressions, quirks, and dialogue off the cuff); but I believe it's now time to return to some thorough planning, in the hopes of creating some stories that have endings that are truly emotionally satisfying (for me, anyway).

And thus, Randy Ingermanson's snowflake method. I started outlining a new novel yesterday; not sure if I'll actually write it - in fact, I probably won't for some time, since I've got five novels in the "to be edited" queue and I just started working on the first - but it's great practice. I'm already learning a lot from the method, which is significantly more in-depth than the old outlines I used to make.

However, even if I don't get around to a new novel for a while, I'm planning to run a test of the snowflake method on a short story. I've already jotted down a thousand words for the piece in question, after writing about 5,000 words of background material (which is probably longer than the story itself will be). It's kind of a crazy amount of preparation, especially since I'm coming out of a period of working from a few sentences only; but I can already feel the richness of the backgrounder infecting the subtext of the short story itself.

Anyway, I figure this is the best way to see whether I find the products of Ingermanson's method useful without writing, y'know... a whole other novel.

-bn

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