If you’ve been following my blog for the past 4 Saturdays, then you know I’ve been testing out the Snowflake Method, which you can find a full explanation of here. Also be sure to check out my progress in the weeks past: 1, 2, 3 and 4.
I’ve been using it to outline the Regency Romance novel I will be writing during NaNoWriMo this year. So far so good. I’ve come up with and ever-expanding plot synopsis and I’ve looked at the story through each of my character’s eyes. This week was a little different.
Step 8: Make a scene list from the 4-page plot summary
Time to make a scene!
That’s how many scenes I ended up with. Randy Ingermanson says that he usually ends up with over 100, but I’m not surprised I had less because I tend to write sparse novels. I wish it wasn’t so, but I believe in being honest with myself, so I must admit that I am a chronic, unreformed under-writer. If anyone has suggestions on how I can become an over-writer, I would love to hear them because being left with too-short novels is very frustrating. I would much prefer to have loads of words to cut than an abundance to add. I can be merciless when it comes to cutting my own writing.
Then again, maybe it’s because I’m not afraid to “kill my darlings” that I’m an under-writer in the first place.
Anyway, 80 scenes are what I have to work with, at least for now. Let me show you how I went from plot summary to scene list.
Remember this paragraph from the plot summary?
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 reluctantly relents.
From that, I got two scenes:
- A 22-years old Jane watches a carriage roll by with very fancy ladies inside and longs to be a part of it. Instead she is entertaining a few neighborhood children by playing in the dirt with them.
- Jane goes inside and begs her mother to take her to London for the Season and, after much protesting, her mother reluctantly agrees.
Why these two scenes? Well, from the paragraph above, I knew I wanted to show how Jane was affected by her mother’s coddling over the years. Her development has been arrested and instead of spending time with people her own age, she is out entertaining children. She is longing to take her place in society with the rest of the people her age. I also needed to set the story in motion. I wanted Jane to be active, and so she is the one who convinces her mother that they should go to London.
This is what I did with the whole plot summary. Paragraph by paragraph, I looked for what scenes suggested themselves to me. Of course, the summary didn’t provide every scene. I often had to come up with scenes that were not suggested by the summary, in order to bridge the gaps.
For example, look at this paragraph:
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.
It resulted in 10 scenes. There aren’t a lot of scenes explicitly suggested by this paragraph because it’s a little vague. But essentially, I had to build this friendship between Arabella and Jane, so I needed a number of scenes to do that so that we would feel how bereft Jane was when her friend left her. I also needed to build the relationship with George, which is incredibly important since he is the love interest.
So, that’s how I came up with my scene list. It was relatively easy, since I already had a 4-page plot summary. As the Snowflake Method promised, building the story in this step-by-step way does make the process easier. I’m not sure yet whether it makes a better outline, but we’ll talk about that when it’s all finished.
One last thing I wanted to mention about this step is that Randy Ingermanson insists that you must learn to use spreadsheets for the scene list. I disagree. I don’t mind spreadsheets. I love my Milwordy spreadsheet. But I think this step could be done just as easily in a bullet point list in Word, or on notecards, or better yet, in Scrivener. I think Scrivener is a little more writer friendly, particularly to those of us *ahem* who are desperately trying to count every single word we write because we set a goal to write one million words in a year and wow! That’s a lot of words, so I have to be careful not to miss any, and what on Earth was I thinking when I signed up for this challenge?
Excel, is not good for keeping track of words. Plus, I just like the layout of Scrivener better. I did use the spreadsheet this time, in the interest of giving this method a full and fair shot, but in the future, I will just use Scrivener.
That’s all for this week. Can you believe next week is the final week? And the very next day NaNoWriMo starts! Just in time! For next week I will be working on the final step (besides the actual writing of the first draft). Step 9 involves taking the scene list and building it out into a narrative outline of the story. I’ll be honest here. I’m not sure I can get this step done in one week, but I’m sure going to try!
Meet me back here next Saturday to see my progress!
If you are enjoying my blog, please like, follow and share! Let me know how your own NaNo prepping is going. Are you trying the Snowflake Method with me? Do you have your own favorite method? Let me know in the comments!