Who Else Wants To Know How To Write A Novel Without Planning?

Guest Post by Cheri Williams

BubbleCow, or should I say Gary, describes both the merits and process of Randy “The Snowflake – Writing Fiction for Dummies Guy” Ingermanson’s much-heralded Snowflake Method here but (and this is a BIG but) while this process has been used to write many sold manuscripts and award-winning books it is completely counter-intuitive to those of us who (as is only right and true) write by the Seat of Our Pants.

Still… as a pantser myself, who having wandered aimlessly for fifty thousand words *cough* or more, only to write myself into plot-holes the size of moon craters (ooh! I’ll make those Mars
craters given that Randy’s novel OXYGEN takes place there), I decided to give it a try.

And here’s the thing—it works perfectly for me—BACKWARDS.

That’s right, backwards, and here’s how. I let my little pantser brain go wild, writing to its determined-not-to-be-bound by rules of conformity heart, but THEN—I stop. I have a little conversation with myself and ask, “Self, what the heck is this book about?”

Aha—very clever of me, I answer.

Yes indeed.

I shall now log said genius into the fancy-schmancy Snowflake Pro software evil-genius Randy Ingermanson created—and, rebel that I am, I just might use two or three sentences (instead of the recommended one) to do it. Ha! Another blow to the passion-sucking rigidity of planning.

And I actually enjoy myself, because Snowflake Pro is loaded with boxes and charts and pictures—oh my. It’s more fun than wandering the aisles at Staples, a veritable Literary Nerd Haven. I click and check, and fill in the blanks, and soon I’m having so much fun I don’t want to stop. Until brain freeze sets in and I realize, holy cow, this is suspiciously like bona-fide pre-plotting, at which time I return to deep satisfaction of wildly-random scene writing.

Every so often, I go back to Snowflake Pro following east-to-follow form and make happy little notes, enjoy the shocking awe of understanding what I’ve written, and the startlingly clear insights as to where the story should go next.

And so—with the help of Snowflake Pro, I have new-found confidence, and will, for the first time EVER join the raucous ranks of NaNoers (yes, that is a word). I’ve got the wildly unbridled passion and the tools. And YOU can too, because Randy and his co-author

John Olson have just re-released their award-winning novel OXYGEN and they’ve repackaged it as
OXYGEN: THE WRITER’S JOURNEY, which includes four appendices—over twenty thousand words—everything from scene writing to sale, PLUS a fifty percent discount on the afore-mentioned Snowflake Pro. Join me in saying, “SCORE!” and “Let the novel writing begin!”

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  • http://twitter.com/SoniaGMedeiros Sonia G Medeiros

    I used to be a diehard pantser. But now I’m a happy plotter. I still kind pants my way through the plotting process but I love writing out each scene in short form and putting them in an outline. That way I can see what’s needed and what might work better and rework it before it goes on the page.