How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing) (Volume 1) by Randy Ingermanson takes the unique tact of telling a story to teach storytelling.
Why I picked it up:
I liked the approach of building your novel in repeating smaller forms like a fractal. I wanted to see how he used the analogy.
I expected a unique approach to novel writing; something to do with the math of chaos theory.
Writers in the planning stage of the novel-writing process who don’t mind the odd fairy-tale retelling.
What I liked:
It covered the basics in a straight forward way. It did somewhat follow the fractal idea as it starts with a one sentence pitch and builds it to a synopsis (big picture) then looks at character overview leading to character specifics, then scenes and scene structure. I felt it had many of the same ideas as The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne explained more succinctly and the explanation of Proactive and Reactive scenes made me think of the take-aways I got from Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Jack Bickham.
What made this book different from other writing instruction books is it is told in the form of a story itself. Part of me thought this was a great way to make the content less dry and incorporate examples of concepts while learning the concepts. Clever. But I could not get over the character choices. I could only take it in small doses and thought about giving up on it a couple of times.
What I didn’t like:
Goldilocks and the three bears, The Big Bad Wolf and the three little pigs, Robin Hood and Old Mother Hubbard are all at a writer’s conference. It annoyed me. And it wasn’t only that these characters were used, but they kept calling Goldilocks “Blondie” and that didn’t bother her, but Robin Hood kept leching on her, so she finally called him out for calling her “wench”. I also didn’t find the writing “method” unique, but, like the characters, a rehash of the basics.
Rating: ♦♦♦◊ 3.5 out of 5
Overall, I think the writing ideas are useful and clear, and the concept of presenting writing instruction through story is unique and a good idea, but I found the character choices grating and distracting which cheapened the effort.