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I Become an Author 6 - Your Story in One Page

2 min read

Nur wer schreibt, der bleibt! I will be the next Jo Nesbö. But for now I have to learn a bit. The funny way. This is what Randy Ingermanson says in How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method 

 

Baby Bear kept studying her. “Why doesn’t Elise just marry Henri?”

“Because … he’s awful! He’s bald and fat and … he collaborates with the Nazis!”

Baby Bear scanned the document. “I don’t see any Values here that say that desirable men are hairy and muscular and fight in the Resistance.”

“But … those are obvious!”

“There she goes, making assumptions again,” said the Big Bad Wolf.

A few lines further:

"And furthermore, Elise apparently believes that collaborating with the Nazis is evil.”

"Well, of course, that’s, um …” Goldilocks sighed.

"Obvious?” said Baby Bear. “And yet millions of people collaborated with the Nazis. Apparently, resisting Nazis wasn’t a Value for everybody.”

Baby Bear goes on:

And you’re right. Synopses are the most boring writing you will ever do. But they’re necessary if you ever want to sell a book to a traditional publisher, because they all insist on receiving a synopsis as part of your proposal. You can’t get an agent without having a brilliant synopsis.”

Goldilocks does not really like writing a synopsis. But Baby Bear insists:

“We’ve already seen how to write a one-paragraph summary of your story,” said Baby Bear. “Now just take each sentence of that paragraph and expand it into a paragraph of its own. You have five sentences. Expanding each of those will give you five paragraphs, which add up to a page. That’s all.”

 

I Become an Author 5 - Nothing Is More Important Than Characters

2 min read

Nur wer schreibt, der bleibt! I will be the next Jo Nesbö. But for now I have to learn a bit. The funny way. This is what Randy Ingermanson says.

 

 

“I’ll give you this hundred-dollar bill if you can hold your breath for two minutes.” Goldilocks didn’t know if she could do that, but it couldn’t hurt to try. “Okay.”

After about 70 seconds Goldilocks gives up and opens her mouth and sucks in air.

Baby Bear put the hundred back in the little wallet clipped to his belt. “Why did you open your mouth?”
“Because I wanted air.”
“Not world peace?”
Goldilocks giggled. “Not right then. I wanted air more than anything in the world.”
“So why were you holding your breath?”
“Well … I also wanted that hundred-dollar bill.”

Baby Bear burst into a smile. “That’s what I call a Goal—when you want something specific and concrete. Like holding your breath for two minutes to earn a hundred dollars.

Baby Bear went to the whiteboard and wrote down:

PROPERTIES OF GOALS:

  • Simple
  • Concrete
  • Important
  • Achievable
  • Difficult

“Values!” said Baby Bear. “Each of you values different things. Goldilocks values clothes and makeup and a nice house and food. That’s what drives her Ambition to be rich someday—because then she’ll have the things she values.”

By definition, Values are so obvious that they can’t be proved. Let’s look at how this works.” He went to the whiteboard and wrote down:

VALUES => AMBITION => GOAL

Baby Bear went to the whiteboard. “For each of your four main characters, I want you to write down the following information.” He wrote on the board:

YOUR CHARACTER SUMMARY SHEETS

  • Name:
  • Role:
  • Goal:
  • Ambition:
  • Values (two or more):
  • One-sentence summary:
  • One-paragraph summary:

Goldilocks took a picture of the board with her phone. “Why do you want more than one Value?”

“Because most people have several things they value. And those can be in conflict. And when a person has conflicting Values, that leads to internal conflict, and the person becomes unpredictable.”

 

I Become an Author 4 - The Importance of Being Disastrous

3 min read

Nur wer schreibt, der bleibt! I will be the next Jo Nesbö. But for now I have to learn a bit. The funny way. This is what Randy Ingermanson says in How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. .

 

The Big Bad Wolf now also threatens Goldilocks, but suddenly...

Baby Bear stood there grinning. “I’m fine. This is my friend, the Big Bad Wolf. I asked him to burst in and fire a blank at me. I had a capsule of fake blood in my paw, and I smashed it on my chest.”

“Why would I kill you?” the Big Bad Wolf asked. A sly smile slid across his face. “I said I’d shoot you only if you decided to use the Snowflake Method.”

“Because …” Goldilocks didn’t realize she’d made the decision until she thought about it just now. “Because when you threatened me, when you said I couldn’t use the Snowflake Method, I realized that … I really do want to try it out.”

“Did everybody see what just happened there? Goldilocks made a decision.”

The Big Bad Wolf went to the whiteboard and picked up a marker. He held it poised at the board and wrote:

WHY YOUR STORY NEEDS DISASTERS

  1. Excitement
  2. Decision
  3. New Directions

Baby Bear went to the whiteboard and found an empty space. “What we’ve learned is called the Three-Act Structure, although I sometimes like to call it the Three-Disaster Structure. Designing your Three-Act Structure is the second step of the Snowflake Method, and I like to do it in one paragraph of five sentences.” He wrote on the board:

YOUR ONE-PARAGRAPH SUMMARY

  1. Give yourself one hour for this task.
  2. Write one paragraph with five sentences as follows:
    • Explain the setting and introduce the lead characters.
    • Explain the first quarter of the book, up to the first disaster, where the hero commits to the story.
    • Explain the second quarter of the book, up to the second disaster, where the hero changes his mode of operations.
    • Explain the third quarter of the book, up to the third disaster, which forces the hero to commit to the ending.
    • Explain the fourth quarter of the book, where the hero has the final confrontation and either wins or loses or both.
  3. Focus on the disasters and the decisions that follow.
  4. Don’t try to figure out how you’ll solve all the problems. Leave that for later. You only care about the big picture in this step.

 

I Become an Author 2 - Your Story in One Sentence

1 min read

Nur wer schreibt, der bleibt! I will be the next Jo Nesbö. But for now I have to learn a bit. The funny way. This is what Randy Ingermanson says.

 

 

Baby Bear stepped to the whiteboard and began writing:

YOUR ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY

  1. Give yourself one hour for this task.
  2. Write one sentence that tells the following:
    • What category your book is.

    • Who your lead characters are.

    • What one thing they desperately want to do.

  3. Don’t tell any backstory.
  4. Paint a picture for your target audience.
  5. Be as short as possible, but no shorter.

 

Beneath that, he wrote Goldilocks’s one-sentence summary:

A romantic suspense novel about a woman in Nazi-occupied France who falls in love with an injured American saboteur on a mission to blow up a key ammunition depot at Normandy just before D-Day.