As an advance note, I’m trying out a new posting system. I hope everything here turns out okay, but in case it doesn’t, please forgive me for any formatting issues.
Now, onto the subject of this blog post:
I receive the monthly eZine from Randy Ingermanson, aka: “The Snowflake Guy”. I subscribed to his monthly emails after trying, and loving, his Snowflake method. I’ve only used it for the one novel so far, but using it up to step four has been helpful for short stories too.
However, there’s one place where I always seem to struggle, and that’s step 5. I’ve never really liked writing down the details of my characters, it seems unnatural to me. Strangely enough, I have no problems listing their basic motivations or the details about them when it comes down to it. But for some reason, summarizing the story for each of the characters is excruciatingly painful for me.
So imagine my surprise when I read this month’s eZine and saw Randy do it well, with a book that I’ve read recently as an example. I think I understand the concept of step 5 a lot better now, and I think that I’ll have to go back and re-work it for my current WIP to see if I can’t discover any unknown subplots.
Here’s the first character profile (warning: spoilers herein and in Randy’s full eZine):
Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old girl in a dystopic future America. She scratches out a bare living by hunting illegally with her best friend Gale.
Katniss only loves one person in the world, her little sister Prim. When Prim’s name is drawn for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place, which she knows will be a death sentence.
Katniss is particularly unhappy that the other tribute from her district is Peeta Mellark, a boy she hardly knows, except that he saved her life a few years ago when she was starving and desperate.
During the last interview before the Hunger Games begin, Peeta reveals on national TV that he has a terrible crush on Katniss, and therefore he can’t win even if he survives. Katniss is furious, thinking this is a scam to make her look weak.
When the Games begin, Katniss grabs a few supplies and heads for the hills to evade the Career tributes. Late that night, she discovers that Peeta has joined forces with the Careers, and has promised to deliver her to them.
Katniss is now completely convinced that Peeta is doing his best to survive at her expense. Can she outfox the Careers — and punish Peeta?
Read the rest here.
I have to say that Randy does an amazing job of, not only getting me engaged in the characters, but in the story, as each successive character’s mini-bio gets closer and closer to the finale of the story, when all the little story-threads finally come together. I think I finally understand how this type of synopsis can be more engaging for editors and agents, and I definitely think that my step 5s need more work.
If you want to read more from Randy, all of his past eZines are available on his website, and you can subscribe to receive the ones on the first Tuesday of the month.
Who do you follow regularly to learn more about your craft?
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 31,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
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