Category Archives: outlining

Adapting the Snowflake Method

Yesterday, I wrote a brief post about the Snowflake Method and how it compares with what I do now. I had some interesting responses (I’ll get to those comments as soon as I can), mostly not in favour of this method. Fair enough. It doesn’t work for everyone, but no one works the same. However, I didn’t have enough time to get into what I wanted to talk about, which is how I can use some aspects of the Snowflake Method in my own outlining process.

Before I get into that, I want to remind everyone that the way I think tends to be very logical, methodical, and thorough. I love planning things, making lists, and all kinds of reference tables and notes. I like to keep my thoughts and ideas organised. Often, they’re in my head, but when I can, I put them down on paper or on my computer. Although I can be spontaneous (I often am with going out and exploring places), I prefer to have everything planned out so I know exactly what to expect. I may not get everything done, but I have a goal to work toward.

Many aspects of the Snowflake Method appeal to me because of the way I think. Expanding the points from one sentence to a paragraph, then expanding each of those sentences to another paragraph is actually how I plan in my mind. Not always on paper, but I do think this way. I like the spreadsheet idea, and I think I’ll incorporate that into my outlining process. I also like having character profiles. I want to be able to be consistent within the story with respect to the characters’ personalities, appearance, and interests. I also like the idea about writing each character’s story synopsis. Taking this a bit further, I’d like to chart out a kind of web to see how each character’s individual story intersects with others’. This is extremely useful for more complex stories that have subplots and several different points of view. Each character has a separate story, but weaving them together and keeping in mind what’s happening at all times will help with consistency. And I also won’t forget about characters. That the danger with a larger cast.

While I won’t be doing the Snowflake Method exactly how he describes it, I will take the parts I like. I don’t think this will be too restrictive or take away spontaneity. I’ve done outlines before where the characters begin to take the story in a slightly different direction, and that’s fine. That’s one of the things I like about writing. It may not completely fit the outline, but I can adapt it. I can change things further down the line and make it work. I just don’t want to be a pantser. I find I lack direction when I do that. I could write like that, but a conclusion may never come. It’s not for me. I tend to do that for blog posts, though.

Any thoughts? Anyone think in a similar way? Or are you completely different? Let me know in the comments.

Outlining Your Story – Paper vs Computer

Outlining is an important part of the writing process. You can clearly get an idea about how your story will go, and you can always fill in the blanks and expand. There are many methods to outline, and everyone has their preference. But the most basic question could be about which media you use.

Some people like to use their computers to outline. It’s versatile, there are many applications available to use, and you can even diagram the outline. Others like to use paper. It’s easy to jot things down, easy to access, and you can work on it anywhere you are. Which do you prefer? Paper or computer? If you use computer, which applications do you use?

I tend to use paper. I keep a notebook and write all my notes in it. I’ve outlined an entire book with one, though it’s not highly detailed. I outline what happens in general first, then expand it and sort it into chapters. After that, I do a chapter-by-chapter outline. It’s one of the more basic outlining styles where you keep expanding what you have.  But I think the reason I use a notebook is because it’s far more portable than my computer. I’ve done a lot of outlining at work during my lunch break.

How about you? Let me know in the comments below.