This step pretty much took me all week, so I’m grateful that I only had to do one step instead of two. Of course, I could have done it a little faster if I wasn’t also in the middle of drafting a novella for Milwordy, but such is life. What kind of a me would I be if I wasn’t biting off more than I could chew?
Anyway, this is my third week trying the Snowflake Method. Let’s get into it.
Step 5: Expand your 1-page plot synopsis into a 4-page plot summary
Like I said in my post last week, I’m not going to post everything I did here. That would be a little much. But I think you can get the gist with what I’m about to show you.
If you’ll recall, I first wrote a plot description paragraph, the first sentence of which went something like this:
An awkward, late-blooming debutante goes to London for her very first Season.
I expanded that sentence into this paragraph:
Having spent the entire 22 years of her life away from high society, a debutante named Jane is eager to spend her first Season in London. Though her mother regrets agreeing to go to London in the first place and complains about town nonstop, Jane is hungry for new experiences. As Jane moves into society, she is intimidated by all the social rules that everyone else seems to understand naturally, but she has never learned. She often makes a fool of herself by either talking too much or too little, and never about what she should. Though Jane was able to make a friend in Lady Arabella during the first half of the Season, she is abandoned when Arabella marries.
That first sentence gave a pretty basic idea of what the story is about, but the paragraph adds some details. It’s still not super in depth of course, but it shows why this is Jane’s first season and also hints at the relationship she has with her overbearing mother. It also reveals a little about what form her awkwardness will take. See how this method starts broad and eases you into the specifics?
And now I took that paragraph and expanded it into the following 5 paragraphs.
As a child Jane Templeton was prone to illness. Her anxious mother kept her from most society, for fear of her daughter’s condition worsening. At 22, Jane has been well for several years, but her mother is still reluctant to let her go out into society. Jane is very nearly too old to make a proper debut in society and so begs her mother to take her to London for the Season before she gets to be even another year older. Her mother grudgingly relents.
From nearly the moment they reach London, Jane’s mother longs to return to the country. She tries several times to scare Jane into wanting to turn around and go back home. She tells Jane horror stories about what happens to those that become pariahs among the ton. She overloads Jane with all the social rules that she had never bothered to teach her before. Jane, however, is hungry for new experiences and cannot be convinced to return home.
Jane is immediately enchanted by the beautiful clothing and elegant manners of the ton. Being a wealthy debutante brings Jane an initial welcome into society. However, after her very first ball, Jane realizes that her mother maybe right about her inability to fit in among the ton. She has no idea how to be introduced properly, which offends many. Even those who are initially friendly turn against her as she is shown to be a bit of a rube.
After her first week in London, Jane finds that she receives fewer invitations than she had initially. When she is out among large groups, she finds it hard to remember all the rules that her mother had tried to instill in her. The more she gets wrong, the more nervous she becomes, which makes it even harder for her to stay on track. She often makes a fool of herself by either talking too much or too little, and never about what she should. Soon she is barely being talked to at all.
Jane is fortunate enough to make a friend in Lady Arabella, a woman who is very knowledgeable in the ways of society. Arabella attempts to teach Jane to do what she should, but the lessons don’t seem to stick. Jane is grateful to have a friend in Arabella, as well as a slight acquaintance with Arabella’s friends, including a surly widower named George Beaumont. The comfort Jane finds in Lady Arabella’s company is brought to a sudden halt when Arabella marries and leaves London before the Season is over. Though she is very happy for her friend, Jane feels abandoned.
See, now we’re getting even more details! I definitely see some actual scenes forming out of this and this is only the very beginning of the story.
All in all, I think the Snowflake Method does just exactly what it promises. It allows you to start with a broad idea and then start to hone in on the details. I’m enjoying the method so far, though there are a few things that I’m not entirely certain I like.
First, though this is kind of easing me into the details of the story, I do find myself adding some filler sentences, just to get to the full plot summary. Sometimes the filler leads me to a discovery about the story, like when I wrote that “Jane was enchanted with the beautiful clothing and elegant manners.” That wasn’t something I knew about her before the step. On the other hand, sometimes filler is just filler. For instance, there is more than one sentence here that reveals how Jane’s mother hates taking Jane to town. I probably didn’t need all of them for my discovery process.
Second, usually after several weeks of outlining, I would have gotten a little more specific with scene ideas. I worked out a few based on this method, but I’ve still got a long way to go. Then again, Step 8 is about coming up with scenes based on the plot summary, so perhaps that’s where I will really get into scene making. We’ll see how that works out.
That’s it for this week. Next week I will be working on Step 7, which is basically filling out the character charts more. You can find the details here. As I’ve said before, this isn’t necessarily my favorite way of creating characters, and I don’t see my mind changing about that in the next week. But surprises do happen. We’ll have to wait and see!
If you’ve been enjoying Structure Saturdays or my blog in general, please like, follow, and share. If you’ve been trying out the Snowflake Method with me, please let me know down in the comments what you think of it so far. I would love to hear from you!