Bright New Beginnings
New Year, New Decade, New Stories To Tell...
January is all about new beginnings, so it seems like the perfect time to share a little about the very first step in our creative process when it's time to begin a new book!
Ideas are a dime a dozen; it's what you do with them that counts, and that means lots of brainstorming. Now, the best brainstorming method for fiction that we've ever come across is called (aptly enough for this time of year!) the Snowflake Method.
It was devised by author Randy Ingermanson, an actual ex-rocket scientist! (so yeah, he's pretty smart, lol). He called it the Snowflake Method because it's based on fractals.
A fractal is defined as: "a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation." (Thank you, Google.)
Fractals abound in Nature. Some think of them as God's fingerprints on Creation. :) I figure, if anyone knows how to go about creating good things, it's probably Him! Anyway, when something is a fractal (like the curl of a conch shell, or the leaf of a plant, or a snowflake!) it means that whether you're looking at something on the tiniest scale or the hugest scale (like the spiral of a galaxy), the pattern of the shape is the same.
You wouldn't think you could apply a mathematical concept like this to an art like fiction writing, but you can! Doing so allows you to create a story that is a harmonious whole, without odd bits or random chunks of plot being tacked on that don't really belong.
As complicated as it might sound, though, it's actually very simple. The way Ingermanson suggests we apply this to writing is simply to start any small fragment of an idea you have for a story.
Just one short sentence of about 15 words or less will become the seed for an entire novel. Depending on how you word it, or what the emphasis is within that sentence, it can alter the whole shape of the eventual novel.
This is the tiniest level of the book, so it's important to get it right. From there, the next step, the second design level up, is to spend time brainstorming "3 disasters and an ending."
The disasters eventually become the pivotal moments or plot twists at the end of each act (say, about every 100 pages or so), and then the climax at nearly the end of the book. Voila!
The Snowflake Method is a great way to structure your brainstorming time so that it's efficient rather than wandering all over the place. We love it, and we're so glad Randy Ingermanson thought of it!
If you enjoy writing and want to learn more, investigate the Snowflake Method here.
Until next month, guys ~ and Happy New Year! :)