November was rough. Actually, it’s been a rough Autumn. I utterly failed to do NaNoWriMo, I didn’t meet my exercise goals, and I didn’t get a job I really wanted. There’s no point into relating the trash-fire that is our political system here in the States so let’s just move along.
I’m not sorry to see winter arrive and with it, a change of scenery. Fall is magical in New England, but leaf mold is not. The icy temps and cold air mean I can breathe better which is always appreciated. Something about the cold helps me think better too.
I’m a native of the Northeast and of Scandinavian (among others) descent so cold is in my blood. I’d rather be shivering than sweating. As a family, we don’t turn the heat on until at least mid-October, preferably as late as we can. This year with the warmer temps we didn’t turn the heat on until the 15th of November, a record.
Writing has been better since December arrived as well. I was bogged down in the middle act of my book, something was off with the pacing. I used the snowflake method to examine my plot from a high level and figure out where I had gone wrong. What’s the snowflake method? Well, it’s one of many ways you can outline a novel. Usually you do this before you start to write.
The best description of the snowflake method can be found at Advanced Fiction Writing. There are other methods and the Now Novel blog has probably the best run down. Why would you want to do this after you’d already written most of the book? For me, this is a way to look at the structure of my novel and spot any issues. If you think of a novel as having a skeleton, this is where you’d find broken or missing bones.
When I first started writing novels I was what you’d call a Pantser, as in I wrote by the seat of my pants, no outline, no synopses, just a vague idea. I’d sit down at the keyboard and start bashing away, sometimes producing thousands of words of a plot line that would later be axed or characters which would be pulled off the page and shelved forever. Writers have figurative (and sometimes literal) trunks that they toss unused content in. I’ve shelved two novels and countless characters. The problem with novels that you don’t outline ahead of time is the sheer number of revisions it will require to become a book worth reading. I don’t have years between books at this stage and can’t devote that kind of time to multiple revisions so I outline.
If you haven’t given outlining a go in your own writing, check out the snowflake method. You may find it’s a good step in-between pantsing and plotting. If nothing else, it will give you the time to put some ideas on paper and make some more room in your head. If you do plot, what method do you find best? Sound off in the comments with your favorite way to get a novel started.