The Secret Uncertainties of a Writer

Armour yourself against the secret uncertainties of your writer soul.You know something?
The inner critic is mean.
It loves to play on existing insecurities and drill into them as if debriding an open wound. It digs and hacks away at the flesh in those weakest parts of ourselves, and then, sensing the blood already drawn, circles and attacks in lancing strikes until we’re tempted to whimper in a corner, defeated.

The key as a writer is to armour ourselves against these abuses. As writers, we must harden ourselves against our own doubts and trust in ourselves and the work we are producing. (Tweet this!)

Today, as I was editing a scene from Birth of the Sacred Mother the inner critic was picking on my grammar and sentence structure. I have a habit of doing interesting things with what might be considered a comma splice. Grammatically in the strict, academic sense, it’s WRONG. But the truth is, when the inner critic gets out of my way and my creative, playful self is allowed into my writing the inner me LOVES how I play with sentences like this. It likes the technique I use, and it thinks the reader will have no trouble understanding the sentence so why change what is ultimately a part of my writer’s voice or style in the hope of making it more ‘correct’.

But it’s an insecurity, because as I’ve told people to reassure them traditional education is not necessary for a writer, I failed ninth grade English and never really learned all the rules and intricacies of grammar. What I do know, I’ve learned through experience or self-taught with thanks to wonders like Grammar Girl, Strunk and White, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I know grammar is one of my weaknesses as a writer, and the inner critic knows I know it. It’s an open wound and that dark voice inside loves to work on it in the most vicious and cruel ways.

The trouble is, if we let these uncertainties fuel the inner critic it can tear us down and get in the way of creation. These doubts lead to writer’s block and as much as some professional writers decry the very existence of writer’s block I believe this is the root of it. At least it has been for me. That voice inside torments and ridicules the inner child that is our writer self. And like a child, if we have trouble standing up for ourselves against the bullies, we might shut down, run away, cower and hide. That leads to words not getting written.

In my case, there are ways to strengthen myself against the critique. Obviously, since I know grammar is a weakness I should do further study until I’m confident I know the rules enough that when I break them I can feel comfortable telling the inner critic with logic and reasoning why I’m doing it rather than responding emotionally. And that’s the thing; Every time the inner critic digs into an insecurity, it’s an opportunity to look at how you can strengthen yourself. (Tweet this!) Perhaps that’s why those professional writers decry the existence of writer’s block, they’ve had years to build their defences against the inner critic and no longer cower from the bully. They stand tall, even against the inner doubt, and find the words regardless of the criticism their inner critic tries to heap upon them. I’m not there yet, but I’m in it for the long haul and I’m learning, and building my defences. Are you?

Which of your open wounds does your inner critic debride? And what can you do to strengthen yourself against the beration so that you’re creating a defence that keeps the bully from standing between you and getting words on the page?

[FFF] Syllable Soup: Because The Right Word Does Matter

by Guy Incognito

Syllable soup is not sour or sweet,
No chunky vegetables, no floating meat.
There are terms and expressions, from message to motto,
Enunciated nouns and verbs with vibrato.
There are plenty of adjectives and probably some slang,
At least if you’d like your soup to have tang.
Would you care to make some? Anything goes!
Gather ingredients and write them in rows.
Mean what you say and say what you mean.
To create quintessential communication cuisine.
Let’s get our soup started, the syllables are hot.
Decide on your words and then fill up the pot.
Now start the stirring, let the flavors all change.
A good hearty soup should have sounds that are strange.
But you must be careful. Do not over spice.
Words should enhance, invite and entice.
Though all words are free, some have a cost.
Some are not simple, so your reader gets lost.
The stovetop’s the page, the chef is the writer.
Who chooses the words to make stories burn brighter?
Syllable soup is a scrumptious delight,
When the cook stirs in all the syllables right.
Never too many and never too few,
Make the syllable soup that’s inside of you.
What’s that you say, you’d like a sample?
How about instead I just cook an example?
Seems fair enough — sometimes once we see,
Then our hearts and our minds and our spirits agree.
Let’s start with a word that’s been pummeled to pulp.
Drop it into the soup and get ready to gulp.
Your teachers have probably all said, “Said is dead!”
But said is not dead, it’s like butter to bread.
Or syllables to soup — I’ll explain what I mean.
Your teacher just meant that “said” shouldn’t be seen.
Said is a word that has only one sound,
No matter how you inspect it or spin it around.
Yet how many ways can you also say said?
I have so many examples inside of my head!
Speak, utter, voice; pronounce or reply,
Your hero could exclaim, or opine, or cry.
Or maybe declare, recite or disclose,
But a rose by another name is still just a rose.
When you find yourself searching for perfect ingredients,
Don’t settle for the sound that seems most expedient.
There is no substitution for that one perfect word,
That gets the page read and your stories all heard.
There is music to language, each word has a beat,
To get you nodding your head and tapping your feet.
Each word has a sound, some short and some long,
They are notes in the verse of a sentence’s song.
Choose each one wisely, place them all in a group,
And share a savory spoon full of syllable soup!

This is just one of many brilliant rhymes and poems for readers of all ages now available in Guy Incognito’s new book, Syllable Soup. When Sean Platt heard from a publisher that his vocabulary was too rich for children he was blown away. He thought children of all ages deserve to be immersed in the wonder and fullness of language! I agree completely and I’m so glad that early rejection lead Sean into the world of Self Publishing. Now, from the Guy Incognito imprint comes a fabulous book of rhymes and language for children that will enrich their lives and yours! For lovers of language, and people who believe children deserve to be immersed in beautiful words, grab yourself a copy of Syllable Soup and share it with the whole family.

Going Into The Dark: Writing The Scenes Your Whole Being Cries Out To Avoid

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Shut up and do as you're told.I had a hard scene to write tonight and my Resistance to it was so great that I was crying my eyes out at the Muse arguing about having to write it the way They demanded. I’m terrified of this scene, it’s brutal and dark and takes the story places that will definitely alienate some readers. I wanted to step back from the scene, write it from a different character’s POV so that it’s less violent and breaking, but I couldn’t make it work and the Muse kept insisting that I needed to get into that dark place and make this happen to my character. And not just to have it happen, but have it visceral and in a POV so close that the reader is ripped through the experience with the character. Good writers are evil to their characters; they push them to their limits and force them to experience the worst of things so that they can rise above their experiences to become the people they were destined to be.

Anyway, after a lot of tears, and an argument with the Muse I did what writers always have to do when the Muse is insisting one thing over what you think you should be doing. Shut up and do as you’re told. So I wrote the scene. 1500 words of hell. And it wasn’t hard to write once I got out of my own way about it. I’m sure it’ll need a hell of a lot of editing and I’m terrified it’ll make it into the final draft because of the public perception part of it. But I also know that the Muse was right, this scene is a crux-point. Without it I wouldn’t be doing the story or the characters justice. It’s brutal, and honest, and dark, but it’s also rich and emotional and compelling. And it shapes my protagonist’s whole, entire future.

So, it was a painful night’s writing, but as usual, worth every minute. And hopefully it’s the hardest scene of the whole book. Although, while my Muse did promise me that, I have a hard time believing it because of the position of this scene in the entirety of the story arc. The climax is only just beginning to build, things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better. Still, I know the Muse means from a personal sense within myself. There will be violence and darkness in the rest of the book but what happened in this scene doesn’t ever happen again. From here, the character begins to heal. This scene was the breaking, everything after this is building her back to greater strength.

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Concrete Poetry: Water Rising, Sky Falling

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It’s another From The Archives moment here on The Craft of Writing Fiction. This time I stumbled across something I wrote for a university creative writing unit a few years ago. It’s a LONG way away from good, but I was trying a technique I’d never used before, concrete poetry. And honestly I probably put way more time into getting the word spacing working (including changing words and rearranging sentences to better fit the space needed to make the image) that the story itself is sub-par. But I thought I’d share it anyway, because it’s cute, sweet, and it’s visually very cool.

So, here it is, concrete poetry as attempted by Rebecca Laffar-Smith. This one is called, “Water Rising, Sky Falling” (yep, even the title needs serious work). Enjoy!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL SIZE - Water Rising, Sky Falling - Concrete Prose by Rebecca Laffar-Smith

(Click the picture for a full-size version which should be much easier to read than this smaller downsized one.)

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Press Coverage And Prepping For Launch

The Flight of Torque by Rebecca Laffar-SmithI’m so excited today. Tomorrow is the official launch of The Flight of Torque. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much as a debut self-published author. I love the book, obviously, and I’m so pleased to have it available for readers after working on it so long. It was a true work of passion and there was a lot of heartache and doubt along the way. There were weeks and months when I honestly didn’t think it would ever get finished. The final book is better than I ever could have imagined when I began it and I’m so pleased with the way it grew and evolved, even if it doesn’t have dragons.

Now, as we’re on the eve of launch, I’m feeling a child-like anticipation. It’s like waiting to open the presents the day before Christmas. It’s not long now, and while I’m not expecting Santa to bring me a swimming pool, I’m thrilled to know the book is going to be celebrated by friends and family. Those who were with me through the struggle, those who knew me when being a writer was a young girl’s dream, and those who are fellow writers looking to me as a beacon of what is possible. I’m hoping there will also be people I don’t know, readers and potential fans, to whom my book truly speaks.

I have to admit, the odds of that weren’t very promising this morning. I got a call from the events coordinator to talk final preparation and decision making. Our booking numbers were looking a little flat and unimpressive. Following from my friend Sioban Timmer’s debut launch on Saturday with 115 people in attendance, and fellow writer Shane McCarthy’s talk on Monday with 35, the handful of registrations I had for The Flight of Torque’s launch saddened me.

I had a good whine with some trusted online friends who helped build me back up and then I went about my day; homeschooling my son, preparing for the NaNo committee meeting, and doing another run through of my speach for Penguin Club tomorrow; but then a friend from writers group sent me two photographs on Facebook which completely transformed my day.

The West Australian; Tuesday, November 4th 2014

My name, and the book launch, is mentioned in Tuesday’s West Australian! This is a newspaper released across the state with a daily circulation of approximately 160,000. That’s a LOT of potential readers who might be interested. If even 0.01% of that audience showed interest it would give the event a significant boost. But honestly, the conversion of potential readers to launch attendance no longer matters to me because the media coverage was enough to make me feel like I’ve “arrived”. It’s another of those author milestones. Seeing my name alongside bestsellers like David Whish-Wilson and Brooke Davis was bliss. It altered my perspective so drastically that I’m again very much looking forward to tomorrow, no matter how many faces I’ll be standing in front of.

I’ve pulled out my camera and have the battery on charge so that I can video record the event for my online friends, family, and fans; I’ve stopped looking with dread at the extra boxes of books because even if they don’t go like hot cakes tomorrow they’ll sell eventually; I’ve found a new chipper burst of energy and enthusiasm that will carry me through. So, here’s to new adventures and every new beginning.

Event Write-Up: Michael Robotham @ Success Library

“Teaching someone to write is a bit like teaching someone to ride a bike. You can tell them to sit up straight and pedal really fast but all those little adjustments you make while you’re riding a bike, that’s just something you have to do instinctively.” ~ Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham Visits Success LibraryI love attending author talks. I always come away from them inspired and excited. This is again the case following tonight’s Conversation with Michael Robotham at Success Library. A talented Australian crime writer, Robotham visits Perth for Crime Scene WA, which is on this weekend, and soon heads to Canada and Germany with his latest book, Life or Death.

I had a wonderful time at Success Library this evening. The new library is huge and stunningly beautiful. It still has that “new” smell and it’s so light and clean and expansive – you feel like you could get lost in all that space. There is a meeting room above the library with a kitchen and event area that overlooks the library below which is really cool. Then there is the larger presentation room that seats up to 170 people. I’m thrilled to have had the chance to go to their first event in the new space, the conversation with Michael Robotham, because I’ll be presenting a NaNoWriMo Information Session there on the 16th of October and it’s nice to get a sense of the space before using it. I have to admit we’re going to feel swamped by space because there is no way we’ll have the numbers Robotham had, in fact, I might recommend we have the Info Session in the smaller meeting room.

Anyway, back to Michael’s event, I have to admit I’m jealous of his relaxed and natural demeanor. He made it look easy, and I know from my very limited experience that presenting, even in conversation-style, is daunting. Of course, Robotham has been in the industry many more years than I have, he’s interviewed famous people like Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell, and English actor, Ricky Tomlinson. It was fun to hear his anecdotes about his experiences as a ghost writer and of course funny to consider his wife feeling that fiction writing is a step into the mundane in comparison. Truly, what’s more interesting? Saying you had dinner with a celebrity or admitting you spent the night alone in front of a computer screen.

One of the key points that remained with me tonight is that Robotham admitted he writes every single day, even on tour as he is now. He’s away from home, busy with radio interviews, author events, conferences, and the rest of the promotional hamster-wheel Hachette has him running, but he still takes a few hours every day to work on his new book. He also said that he has ideas one at a time, (sometimes I wish for THAT rather than having a dozen ideas all wanting to be written yesterday), and that he has a few hours of panic after finishing a manuscript worried he’ll never have another good idea – and then inevitably does and begins writing the next book a few hours after hitting send on the one before. This is steadfast professionalism. It’s the kind of staying power and dedication to his career that I’d like to develop within myself. He had some advice for me when I admitted that it wasn’t finding time that was the issue, but in using it when it was available instead of running scared. He said, “You need to glue yourself to the chair.” And he’s right. Those hours I’ve blocked off for writing need to be non-negotiable. “Glue yourself to the chair” and get the writing done because without the words you have no books, and with readers waiting for the sequel to The Flight of Torque, I definitely need to make those words happen and develop a regularity over doing it.

Life or Death by Michael RobothamIt was reassuring to hear that Robotham takes years for some books to come from idea to finished product. Life or Death was inspired by a real-life story of a convicted felon who broke out of prison the day before he was due to be released. Michael talked about how that real-life story unfolded and other than that initial premise the true story “bares no relation to the novel”. Convicted murderer, Tony Lanigan, escaped from prison in 1995 “on the eve of his release” and then turned himself in the next day to score himself two years added to his sentence. Then, two years later he escaped again and they didn’t run him down because they thought he’d turn himself in again; he’s never been found since. Still, that initial seed, ‘Why would a man escape prison on the eve of his release?’, was planted in Michael’s mind in 1995, but it took almost ten years before Robotham could come up with a truly compelling reason. At that point Robotham hadn’t written any fiction and thought, “I don’t know if I’ve got the ability to actually tell the story”. That’s how I felt about The Flight of Torque when I shelved it in 2007 after starting it in 2006. Almost ten years later again, and nine other novels under his belt, Michael finally decided “Okay, now or never, I’ll give this one a crack.” That’s a book that took almost twenty years to write!

I guess the true take away lessons here are to “glue yourself to the chair” no matter how long it takes!

The Maze Runner [Friday Fiction Favourites]

I saw a really cool movie trailer while waiting for Guardians of the Galaxy to begin in the cinema on Thursday. Then those magic words popped up…

Based on the best-selling novel

As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE book-to-movie adaptations and the trailer looked like another one I’d truly enjoy. So, as a few other previews played, I grabbed my iPhone and snapped up a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner for Kindle. Obviously, I didn’t read the book right there in the cinema, but it made for an interesting weekend read.

I have to admit, I wasn’t captivated by the beginning. The book is slow to get off the ground. The premise is interesting, but I didn’t really find myself caring about the characters; perhaps because it’s almost exclusively a teenage male cast (and therefore typically a teenage male target audience – which as a adult female I most certainly am not). Perhaps it also had something to do with the odd, and unlikely amnesia the boys all experienced. The internal monologue of the protagonist harped on about the amnesia as if the author was trying very hard to convince readers that the specificity of the characters amnesia wasn’t implausible. Basically, I found myself a little frustrated in the early stages of the book.

I think another thing I found frustrating was that it seemed to take quite a long time for “stuff” to “happen”. The kid is hauled up in the box, it’s terrifying, no memory, we get that. It’s enough of a hook to make us wonder why so we’ll hang with it to find out. Next day a girl comes up and that’s never happened before (according to the other boys, but the POV character being new really doesn’t find it any big deal), but then the book takes several chapters to really get to the action. The setting is detailed, the strange language given some life, and the general day-to-day world of the story unfolds with very little drama.

Thankfully, the latter half of the book does pick up. We’re given a firm sense of “the bad guys”, given face by the ugly machines that were difficult to truly picture because, as a blend of oozy/fleshy/blob and sharp pointy needles and metal, the creatures never really sharpened in my mind. But we’re also given a sense of the greater evil, and finally begin to empathise with the boys. Lab rats, clearly, but motivated and proactive despite their situation.

By the end of the book I found myself enjoying it. In the final chapters I was turning the pages to find out what happens next where in the beginning I kept reading from sheer stubborn determination not to give up since I’d already mentioned my plans to read and review it. The trouble is, the book ends with a clear sense of the sequel, but I’m not leaping out to buy the next book. I would like to know what happens next, but I wasn’t spellbound by the writing and am not keen to wade through it again.

I am, however, still keen to watch the movie. Having read the book, it’s the kind of book I suspect lends itself to cinema better than print. A good director with a fair budget will hopefully draw out the magic in the story. The fact that it’s produced by 20th Century Fox gives it some real potential and from the trailer I can see the cinematography is spectacular. I think, as a movie, this one could be pretty cool. Check out the trailer for yourself and let me know what you think.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

From The Archives: An Interview With The Acclaimed Author…

I stumbled across this pretty cool nugget while I was browsing the web last night. Can you believe I wrote this May 22, 2007!!! It’s amazing how much changed in the years between when I wrote this and when The Flight of Torque was finally published in June 2014.

Please note, this is entirely fictional. It’s was fun to play with the idea of being interviewed by someone famous as a “what if” or “someday maybe”. This was in response to exercise 15 from Page After Page by Heather Sellers. (Speaking of interviews, here’s one I really did give recently at Worlds of Wonderment!)


O: On The Book Club tonight we’re very lucky to have with us an acclaimed author known best for her fantasy series, “Torque”. she has been awarded for her fiction, non-fiction and yes, even poetry. Please put your hands together for the lovely, Rebecca Laffar-Smith.

[Audience goes wild as the famous author walks on stage and embraces Oprah then quiets as the two women sit and make themselves comfortable.]

O: Rebecca, it’s wonderful to have you with us. I understanding you’re promoting your new series which has been getting rave reviews. I’ve read it myself, finished it just last night in fact and I have to say, I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. It’s really incredible. Tell me, what’s it like to write another best seller after the success of your last series?

R: [smiles shyly] Wow, thank you Oprah, it’s really wonderful to be here again. Actually I love this new series and I’m so excited the first book has finally reached readers. I’ve been getting so many letters from readers who loved the first series and wanted to know what I was working on next. I have to admit I was a little worried this new direction might alienate a few of my readers but it actually seems like more and more of the books are selling. I understand HarperCollins have had to go into their third run, the demand has been just amazing.

O: [nodding] Yes, the last time you were here we had only just discovered you after the release of “The Flight of Torque“. That was the first of the series. Did you ever think the books would be so popular?

R: [chuckles] Gosh, no. I remember when I was writing Flight of Torque I had so many doubts. It was a rough year and I went in so many wrong directions I often wondered if I’d ever finish the book. Even then the thought of its success was just a spark amongst the tinder of my imagination. It hadn’t taken off. I mean I joked about Jessica Alba staring in the movie, but when it actually happened, wow, it was just incredible.

Now with this second series I wanted to delve a little deeper with the character aspects of my new cast. I wanted to get a little more ‘real’ with my characters and show normal people being called to do extraordinary things. I have to admit that Tori, well, we could hardly call her ‘normal’. [chuckles as audience chuckles] I know, she’s practically a super-heroine but I wanted to branch away from having characters that weren’t completely relateable in modern day. I also wanted to explore the celtic/pagan branches of my own heritage and take a step backwards into medieval times. I think those who loved Torque will find a whole new way of seeing the world with the new series.

O: Well, I read your book and our audience tonight have ALL been given a copy. Yes, yes, check your little bags under your chairs, you all have a copy of Rebecca’s book and I’m sure you’ll all love it as much as I did. [Audience shuffles to dig up their goodies with oh’s and ah’s. I’m smiling.] But tell me, what can we expect from the rest of this series?

R: Oh, I couldn’t really go into that Oprah, it would be telling… [winks] But what I can say is that one of our favorite characters has a revelation no one could possibly guess. In fact, [appears to ponder] I’ll give five-hundred dollars if one of my fans can email me [email address appears on screen] with what you suspect is going to happen and guess correctly. [emails start going wild before the show even finishes]

These new characters are so embedded in their world and each is sparked with their unique brand of humanity that it is going to be interesting reading as they come up through the conflicts, some of the past, some of the present. They’re going to be facing inner demons but ultimately they’ll grow into remarkable people. They have their own story to tell and even I’m continuing to learn from them day after day as I write.

O: I know you have the next few books of this series but are there any plans for beyond that? And what else are you working on outside of the novels?

R: I’m glad you asked actually. Yes there are plans beyond this latest series. I wanted to work on a book that’s focused more on spirituality and the connection within ourselves. We are coming into an age where people are more in tune with their higher power and their importance in the reality of the universe and I wanted to capture that. In a way all of my books connect with the power of people, particularly the self power that every person possesses but I wanted to portray that on a grander scale.

I’ve also been publishing more of my poetry and non-fiction articles. I have my column as you all know and I’m delighted to announce that it’s finally reached international syndication which means readers all over the world will be able to share in the topics I cover every month. I have a new book coming off the presses as we speak. It’s another poetry anthology, this one focusing on the suffering involved with terminal illness. Part of the proceeds of that book go to the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society who do amazing things for the sufferers of XP and their families.

O: That is a wonderful cause and I understand it’s important to you for personal reasons. Your brother was diagnosed with the terminal condition and died at a young age. [I’m nodding] All of your books sound like they are very close to you. Do you draw from your own experiences?

R: [smiles] Well I’ve certainly never turned into a snake, but I suppose in a way I try to use myself and my own experiences to deepen the qualities of my characters. In a way I also wanted the opportunity to express my beliefs and to reach out to anyone who’s ever suffered in life. Each of my books focuses strongly on a deep truth that I wanted to share with my readers. In The Flight of Torque it was all about the importance of having faith in yourself. Without that Tori and Lucas could never have been the amazing people they were. I’ve been learning, along with my characters I suppose, and it’s wonderful to be able to share that experience with my writing. It’s such a vital element of who I am and how my world is shaped.

O: [nodding, audience enthralled] Thank you so much for talking with us tonight, Rebecca.

R: [smiling] Thank you for having me, Oprah.

O: I’m sure we’ll see more of you in the future. [turns to camera/audience] If you want to get a copy of any of Rebecca’s books they’re on sale now at all major bookstores or you can order them online. You can also order copies of, “Born To Say Goodbye”, which is set for release later this week, remember part proceeds go to the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society and you can make donations to support their cause directly to their website, via this number or through Rebecca’s website. [phone number and web address flash on screen]

I hope you’ll all read her books and come to see the wonderful insight this lovely young woman brings into the world. She conveys the depth of human emotion and spiritual connection in enchanting stories that delight the mind and are sure to reach out to all readers. Thank you for joining us with another book club.


The interesting thing about this is that seven years later I still have these plans for works I’d like to complete. Some of them are already in production. The Flight of Torque took a great deal longer to write than I expected, but I’ve grown so much in those years that I feel like I’m finally ready to launch my career. I’m developing discipline, focus, and strategies to get things accomplished.

*chuckles* That was pretty fun. I challenge you all to go interview yourself on Oprah. *wink* That was exercise 15 from Page After Page by Heather Sellers. Interview yourself as if you’re an already famous writer, discuss your future projects, and what you would like to write about. Feel free to share your interview (or a link to it) in the comments below. I’d love to read it!

A Brief Glimpse of the Snowflake Method [Friday Fiction Favourites]

I just blazed through this pretty clever book, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson. I mean blazed, I opened it for the first time a few hours ago and devoured it in one brief sitting. It was enjoyable, and informative. The lightness of voice and the unique fictional non-fiction kept me fascinated.

Using a cute fictional fable with some of our favourite fairytale characters, Ingermanson breaks down his Snowflake Method for planning/outlining a novel. It’s really quite brilliant, and I was surprised at how easily his steps resonated with my own process. I could see how the method can make the initial planning stages simpler to enact. It takes the guesswork out of how to go from initial idea to fully-fleshed and detailed story concept.

If you’re a pantser you’ll HATE the Snowflake Method (but may still love the book). I think planners will love both. If anything, it takes planning to whole new levels and gives us a solid outline that takes the guesswork out of writing the first draft.

The Snowflake Method breaks down into ten tasks.

  1. Define your Category (Genre), Target Market, and 30-word Elevator Pitch/Story Sentence
  2. Expand your Elevator Pitch into a One-Paragraph Summary
  3. Summarise each of your characters:
    Role, Name, Goal, Ambition, Values, Conflict, Epiphany, One-Sentence, One-Paragraph
  4. Expand your One-Paragraph Summary into a One-Page Synopsis
  5. Create One-Page Synopsis for each of your characters
  6. Expand your One-Page Story Synopsis into a Four-Page Long Synopsis
  7. Create detailed Character Bibles for each of your characters
  8. Create a List of All Scenes
  9. Define Proactive or Reactive Elements for Each Scene
    Proactive: Goal, Conflict, Setback / Reactive: Reaction, Dilemma, Decision
  10. Write the first draft based on the outline of each scene

I’m looking forward to putting the technique into practice with Birth of the Sacred Mother. I’m in the early planning stages now and have kept fumbling with my outline. As I read, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method, I could see where my weaknesses came from. Like Goldilocks, I’ve been a little shy about fleshing out my antagonists. Now, over the coming days I plan to take the ten-step approach one step at a time and see how it works for me.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t use the method exactly as described, the fiction element makes for a delightful story and the book is a very quick read. Not to mention the fact that the Kindle version is only a couple of bucks. You’ll get ideas and begin to see your own stories differently. You may find there are aspects of the method you love and can use. Ingermanson (or rather Baby Bear) recommends adapting a Creative Paradigm that suits you. That’s what I’ll be doing with the Snowflake Method because I know there are parts I’ll find very useful, but I also still love The Hero’s Journey and that will play into my outline. It’s about adopting what works for you and adapting your own personal technique, one that heightens your efficiency and makes it easier to tell a great story.