How To Write A Novel: The Snowflake Method
When I knew I wanted to write Circus Of Prodigy my first thought was to google "how to write a novel". I then leaned back and laughed uncomfortably at my ignorance and futility before pressing [Enter]. I had a pretty detailed plot in mind, but how can someone learn how to write a novel from Google! Especially someone like me who never heeds the common advice to "Start small and DON'T try to make your first novel a masterpiece". I've ignored this same advice when recording an album, making a video game, and every time I paint a picture.
I ignore this advice because I'm stubborn, and I have a weird affliction where every project I take on has to be more ambitious than the last or I haven't proven anything to myself. I guess that's what really drives me, finding out what I'm capable of. The problem with this mentality is evident in the paintings on my art page. They're displayed chronologically along with the effort in hours for each piece. The efforts are as follows: 20 hours, 280 hours, 460 hours, 570 hours. Since I have no desire to spend 700 hours on another painting I'm left wondering if I'll ever put brush to canvas again. (and I do love to paint!)
So when my google search turned up all sorts of theories and books about writing a novel, I tried to get by with a lazy approach and look for any pages that could actually describe a method succinctly, without the need to read a book about one author's point of view. To my great surprise, I found one, and I can attest to the effectiveness of this simple chunk of wisdom. I found this 4-page description of the Snowflake Method.
Essentially you write a story from the inside out, starting with a 1 sentence description of your plot. Then expand that to a paragraph. Then expand each line of that paragraph into its own paragraph, and then a page. You don't just keep doing this (that would require a lot of redundancy), but once you have 10 pages or so you stop and write a 1-page bio for all of the main characters in your story. Then you make a spreadsheet with about 100 rows and break your 10-page story into ~100 scenes. Once you've done this, the real fun begins. You can just start writing freely without worrying about how what you're writing affects the rest of the story, because it's all mapped out.
This saves countless hours of re-writing and re-re-writing whole chapters when you realize later in the writing process "Oh it would have been so cool if x, y, or z had happened earlier!" And what's even more powerful about this method is that you can write out of sequence. I would sit down to write, pick a scene that had been on my mind during that day, and write it. 95% of the text in Circus Of Prodigy was written when I was passionate about that particular part of the story, and at the end, it's pretty easy to fill in the remaining 5%. This makes each scene a little sandbox you can play in whenever you want. You won't slop your way through a chapter that's necessary for the story to get to what you want to write. And lastly, it makes a lot of sense to me to have your story mapped out in a scene list so you can visualize the reader's experience to know if you're dragging on about something or rushing through something else. You can move these rows around and play with the sequence of events to give an entertaining and purposeful composition to your storytelling. I am so glad I found this method and hope others will try it. It turned the daunting task of writing my first novel into a rewarding adventure.