Craft Book Review: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

snowflake methodHow 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.

My Expectations:
I expected a unique approach to novel writing; something to do with the math of chaos theory.

Intended Audience:
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.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Review: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

Over the weekend, I went to West Seattle and had brunch with an old friend. After we ate, we walked around the shops. In a home furnishings store, I noticed a beautiful book and had to have it. So I am now the proud owner of: A Compendium Of Collective Nouns

A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

The collective nouns in this book were researched from The Book of Saint Albans, An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition by James Lipton which I talked about in my post Exploring: Collective Nouns, and other historic examples of collective nouns.

A collection of collective nouns is fun for anyone and everyone who enjoys playing with words, and this book is beautiful as well.

A Disguising of Tailors

This is the page I turned to in the store that turned this book from, Oh, I want this, to I’m taking this home with me. As a person who worked many years as a seamstress and tailor, I absolutely love the idea of being part of a Disguising. I’m going to extend that to A disguising of costumers because it’s just perfect. As you can see, the full page graphic designs are also eye-candy.

A Duplicity of Spies

This page is full of fun collective nouns. I especially like:

  • A venom of spiders
  • A duplicity of spies
  • A scurry of squirrels
  • and A galaxy of starfish

I highly recommend treating yourself to a copy of A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from Woop Studios.

Also from Woop Studios:

A Raft of Otters: Collective Nouns Flash Cards from A to Z

A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns

 

How can you use collective nouns in your writing?

Happy Reading and Writing

 

New Book! BEWILDERMENT by Michael Onofrey

Cover of Bewilderment A Novel by Michael OnofreyLast September we had a special guest post from Michael Onofrey, an author I met through the Five On The Fifth Magazine‘s authors group. His post, About Writing, let us peek into his writing life. Today, I am happy to announce his novel Bewilderment is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be officially released on April 17th and I was given a digital copy to review.

MICHAEL ONOFREY was born and raised in Los Angeles. Currently he lives in Japan. Over seventy of his short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, in print and online, in such places as Cottonwood, The Evansville Review, Natural Bridge, Snowy Egret, Terrain.org, Weber–The Contemporary West, and The Williamauthor Michael Onofrey bio pic and Mary Review. Among anthologized work, his stories have appeared in Creativity & Constraint (Wising Up Press, 2014), In New Light (Northern Initiative for Social Action, 2013), Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), and Imagination & Place: An Anthology (Imagination & Place Press, 2009). He is the author of “Bewilderment,” Tailwinds Press.

BEWILDERMENT

By Michael Onofrey

four stars

 

Reading Bewilderment took me on a true adventure. From an uncomfortable homecoming in Los Angeles to a sweat-soaked bicycle tour of India; from an artist’s studio in Los Angeles to a voyeur’s job in Pakistan; I followed Wade’s life from the most mundane to the most unusual with an even, honest, matter-of-fact account in Wade’s refreshingly open world view.

The feel of the book brings you into the life of a longtime traveler with focus on the most basic human needs: the danger of unclean water; gathering sustenance; finding shelter; a life spent relying on strangers and not building sustained relationships. Mr. Onofrey’s use of these detailed daily needs highlights the contrasts of Wade’s life as a traveler and the life he tries to create back home.

I enjoyed how the structure of the novel also lends to the telling. In the beginning, the chapters alternate between Wade’s life after returning home to care for his sick mother and events during his previous bike tour of India. As the story progresses, the format changes and Wade’s travels become stories he tells to his lover in the present. By the end of the novel the past and present appear to intertwine.

Though I found the detail, format, and crisp conversational language engaging, I often felt kicked out of the story by the present-tense telling. I felt like the story slipped from past tense to present tense in a jarring way. I also noticed a couple of moments when the story head-hops to Wade’s girlfriend which took me from the story, but only for a moment. I think it was part of the honesty of the telling and Wade’s world view, but there were a few times I thought, “That was interesting, but he just dropped it.” However, none of this stopped me from hungrily turning the pages.

Bewilderment is a unique read with a skillfully developed protagonist that pulls you into the life of a traveler and leaves you pondering your own life experiences.

* I received a digital copy of Bewilderment in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Did you like this book review? Any tips to make it better? Would you like to see more book reviews on Experience Writing? Please let me know in the comments.

A Quick Note of Thanks

pastel reflectionI want to thank Renee at Mother Daughter Book Review  for allowing me to guest post and for making the post look so lovely.  I did  research on photography as illustration in children’s picture books and found an interested study that illuminated a hybrid genre. I hope you’ll take a moment to click on the link and read my post. I would love to hear your thoughts.

And for those of you who have not read the first two Gator McBumpypants books, or you just want a chance to win a signed copy, I have two Goodreads giveaways going on right now.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise Giveaway until Dec. 2, 2015

Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly Giveaway until Dec. 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you are surrounded by reasons to be thankful.

Happy Reading and Writing!