For NaNoWriMo this year I decided to actually plan my novel. Last year I flew by the seat of my pants, and while it was an exciting rush to head off into a world of adventure with no idea where I was going to end up, it resulted in a manuscript with quite a few plot holes, character inconsistencies, and general kinks. All of which I am still trying to sort out in editing.
A few months ago, during that wonderful snapshot of summer we here in Britain had, I dropped across something called the Snowflake Method for plot development. It’s based on the idea of starting with one basic layer and adding more layers until you have a plot, and characters, that are well-developed enough to use effectively.
It has ten steps, and the first is to write down a one-line synopsis of your story. This was hard, but I managed it. I found that it focussed me on the fundamental point of my story. What was it actually about? What was the core of the story?
Each step then builds upon this, adding more and more detail to the plot until you have your fleshed out story. A couple of the steps focus on character, and the individual arcs they have, their individual stories. I used a character chart on one of the steps, as I find it’s the best way to guide me when developing characters.
By the end, I had a plot and characters. Both of which were solid enough for me to get through NaNo without sitting and staring at my computer screen for half an hour thinking, “Where do I go now? What happens next?”
Which was nice. Especially considering I was lacking on the whole time front.
I thought this method was a good way of developing a plot, not that I have much to compare against at the moment. I’ve come across a few other methods recently, and for my next few novel-length stories I’m going to try them out, one by one. I figure it’s the only way to really find out what works for me, and what doesn’t.
I would recommend giving the Snowflake Method a go, especially if you do struggle with creating a plot without some guidance, as I do at the moment. Having never been a plotter, I’m not quite sure where to start without something to tell me. This, I think, will change in time. As I get more experienced with creating plots before I dive right in to the writing, I’ll work out my own method. Maybe a combination of several I’ve experimented with, maybe just by using one. Maybe something I come up with myself. Who knows?
I found that being prepared (and that was thanks to stumbling across this method) was the biggest key to being able to win NaNo. I had more spare time last year, so it didn’t matter so much if I “wasted” the time I spent in front of my computer. But this year I had to make every moment count.
The other factor in winning was determination. I was determined I was going to win. I couldn’t face not doing. So I wrote when I was really too tired to write, when I didn’t feel like it, when I thought the words were total rubbish (and I still think some of them are), and when I thought I couldn’t drag another syllable from my mind and fingers.
I have no other tricks, tips, or talents. Just write. Keep writing. No matter the word count goal. Each word counts and each word is one I/you didn’t have before.
Good luck to everyone with all future projects. Be they writing or not. 🙂