Designed and created by a positive minded, Gluten-free, thyroid cancer survivor!

Friday, 24 February 2012

No snow . . . how about a Snowflake

Alright it was a trick . . . this post actually has nothing to do with snow - it's about a method of writing, or at least starting to write a novel. So . . . if you must, get out now and head back to your happy facebooking :)
However - if you have the slightest bit of interest or are an aspiring novelist then maybe you might want to read on.

The Snowflake Method:

It seems logical to me that if you plan out a novel before you begin writing it, that it would come together more easily. With anything – an essay, a business, Christmas shopping . . . -  a good plan seems to be a key to success. I am going to try and put that to the test by using the "Snowflake Method" created by author/novelist Randy Ingermanson - known by some in the U.S. as America's "Mad Professor of fiction writing." I hadn't actually heard of the man before but from what I read he has written six fictional novels and two non-fiction works all of which are based somehow in Christianity.

I'm not here to proclaim my own religious beliefs or prop up the beliefs of others - it really doesn't matter to me - what I am interested in is his method. And the Snowflake method for which Mr. Ingermanson is known for seems to be pretty popular among authors and aspiring writers, such as moi. If you would like more information on Randy Ingermanson, his novels, other work or more in-depth information on his "Snowflake Method" visit,

To start - as anything starts – you need an idea. A simple idea that is then built upon until it becomes the bones of a decent novel. From there you fill in all the meat and potatoes so to speak. It reminds me of my early days writing essays in high school and university. I was taught to surmise a question, and then do my research - of which I already had assumptions (sometimes those assumptions were changed) - nonetheless you then have to go about proving why the answer you came to was the right one. You needed to have proof or support for your findings, and this created the body of the essay. A good essay, I was told should have at least 3 supporting points or proof as to why your statement and following conclusion was true - or at the very least plausible. You formulated your statement, gathered the research for your supporting points and then made your conclusion . . . there was a plan or framework in place before the actual essay was written. This for me anyways, made the actual writing of the essay that much easier. The Snowflake method is the same, just on a larger scale.

Ingermanson’s Method boils down to 10 steps - not 12 - 10. If you want 12 steps there are plenty of other sites for that.

Ingermanson's 10 steps:

1. Write a catchy one line sentence (15 words or less) that describes your story. It's suggested that one reads the one liners laid out to describe the books on the New York Times Bestsellers list.

2. Now, expand that sentence into a paragraph. Ingermanson likes to include "3 disasters and an ending. Each disaster should take a quarter of the book to develop and the end the last quarter." Sort of like a Shakespearian 3 Act play.

3. Design your characters. Ingermanson suggests writing a one page summary sheet for each major character that tells their: name, storyline, wants/desires, goals, conflicts, and how they change. Then write a one paragraph summary of their storyline. This doesn't need to be perfect, and may be revised as you progress with telling your story.

4. Now Ingermanson says that you should know your story. You should know the tale, its major players and how you want it to play out. From here he says you should build, expanding your short initial sentence into a paragraph. Then bring everything into a one page (approximately) skeleton of the book. This, or some variation of this, could be used as your proposal to potential publishers . . .

5. Write a one page character synopsis for all major and supporting characters.

6. The story of each character can be woven into the overall plot. At this time Ingermanson suggests the one page synopsis for each character be further developed and expanded into 4 pages.

7. Expand and chart each major character by outlining and describing every big or little thing there is to know about them, i.e. birthdate, history, how they change or will grow during the novel.

8. Create a spreadsheet of all the "scenes" of your novel. For each scene list the main character, what is to happen and how many pages you want the whole scene to take up. A computer generated spreadsheet would allow you to see the whole story at a glance and easily reorder things should you need or want to.

(above: a look into the mind, via spreadsheet of J.K. Rowling as she planned out one of her novels . . . pity she didn't make it very far.)

9. Write a "narrative description of the story." Expand one line to a paragraph etc. Include interesting lines of dialogue or conflicts you would like to use in the novel. Ingermanson suggests starting new chapters on a new page so they can be switched around or taken out with ease.

10. Start writing the first draft - At this point, according to Ingermanson, the story should come easily. . . I'll see about that . . . :S

Time to get started . . . I'll keep you posted!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

To write what is worth publishing . . .

. . . to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author - Charles Caleb Colton

A week or so ago a friend of mine who is thinking of publishing a book of her own, sent me a message wondering if I knew if publishers looked for a specific style of font etc. I messaged back . . . and then I thought I should make it into a post. Why not - it is after all related to writing. It's related to the after effect of writing . . . that wonderful moment when you say to yourself "wow, I created something great and I want to share it!" Then the sometimes daunting, long and possibly non-rewarding adventure of trying to get published the "traditional" way begins! The main thing to remember is to stay strong and focused on your goal - don't give up!! If you really want to be published you will be - there is a way, you just need patience and the ability to take constructive criticism. Stay true to your story . . . but be willing to make changes that will make it better. Eventually your work will be published.

Here is my note to my friend . . . who I know will soon have her work published. She has an eloquent and clear way of writing and her story should be shared :)!!

. . .

I haven't come across a publisher that has specifically stated a typeset for manuscripts to be submitted in - correct me if I'm wrong. That being said every publishing house has different rules about how you should approach them and then submit your manuscript.
In my experience a lot of corporations us Arial as their font type and either 11 or 12 as the size . . .
Most publishing companies will ask that you first submit a "Query" - this is usually a short letter from you asking if they would be interested in reading a chapter or two (or if they would like the full manuscript sent to them) they also usually want you to include a brief biography about yourself.

Again every publishing house is different in how they want you to approach them - so keep writing but in the meantime start to research the publishing houses out there and click on their submission tab/link and see what there protocol is. A good reference guide is the "Canadian Writers Market" and you should be able to get that at the library - you might not be able to take it out though . . .
Hope this helps - Keep me posted!! If you choose self-publishing . . . let me know and I can give you what info I have on that as well.

There is a publishing house in Hamilton that might be one for you to consider . . . I can't quite recall the name - Seraphim or something angelic like that comes to mind . . . (

Also note that some publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscripts or even queries . . . so I emphasize again to really look hard at their submission process . . . seems odd I know that some wouldn't even accept a query - how do they get books published then . . . they are having people recommended to them by other sources and have staff who read blogs :) etc to find authors - so . . . you never know, you could be being stalked by a potential publisher now!!

. . .

After reading my message again I need to clarify my first remark - all publishing houses are different yes, however I think what I should have said was that I don't believe there is an industry standard. All publishers don't require that manuscripts be set up or submitted in the same way. That would be too easy . . . you have to treat each publisher differently and go by what they want which makes the whole process at times very time consuming - but once you are published, well worth the effort!