Snowflake Part III Character motivations

Some of you might be thinking, ‘Wow that Snowflake Method sure focuses on plot. What about the characters?’

Before using the Snowflake, I never got past the short synopsis. I wanted to jump into the writing.

And this time, I finally (yes, I’m slow to catch on) worked on the characters.

Here’s what I did:

  • Per the Snowflake, for each main and important secondary character, I wrote down their story goal, conflict, epiphany, sentence summary and paragraph summary.
  • And then, I wrote a characters synopsis for each of them – taking a few paragraphs to tell the story as if they were the main character. (Wow! Enlightening.)

I’ve barely started writing, but I feel as if I understand my villain, and I’m friends with my characters. But, knowing all this and creating 3D characters on the page are two different things. I have a lot of hard work ahead.

And I need all the help I can get. How do you make sure your characters are fully developed? And, what are some techniques to bringing them to life on the page? (Other than blood, sweat and tears.)

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12 Responses to Snowflake Part III Character motivations

  1. Carole Anne Carr October 18, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Wish I could bring myself to do that, only develop characters as I go along, would be much better your way.

  2. Misha October 18, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Great way to analyze your characters.

    I usually only analyze my main characters.


    • Laura October 18, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      Carole – There is no right way. But it helps me to work out some of these things beforehand.

      Misha – My secondary characters suprised me in a good way when I took the time to get to know them!

  3. Stina Lindenblatt October 18, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    I do exercises from the book Getting Into Character. There’s something else I now do, which I’m blogging about on Wednesday. 😉

  4. Lois Moss October 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I like these ideas. I’m thinking I need to do them with my main characters.

  5. Patti Nielson October 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    I go about it the hard way. I write the first draft with only a vague understanding of my characters, but by the end of the book, I know them a lot better and make changes during the editting process.

    • Laura October 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

      Stina – I’ve done exercises from Getting in a Character. A great book.

      Lois – Sometimes every little bit helps.

      Patti – We all work differently. If I don’t go into a story knowing stuff my mind blanks and all creativity freezes!

  6. Karen Strong October 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I think I’m really going to try this Snowflake Method with my next novel project.

    Character development is something I really need to focus on earlier in the process.

    One of the things I’ve been doing during this current revision phase is asking the same question to all of my characters. It’s fascinating how each of them answer differently and it gets me to “know” them better.

    Another trick is asking a character what she thinks of another character in the novel.

  7. Julie Musil October 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    I like the snowflake method, and I used it on my two novels. I’m plotting my next one now, and will dive in to the snowflake soon.

    I like the way it forces me to think about everyone’s motivations, instead of just a thin story that races around in my mind. I’ve never followed the method all the way to the end though. Bad Julie, bad.

  8. Susan Kaye Quinn October 19, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    OK, THIS part I’ve actually done, but not as part of anything that could neatly be called a “method.” I just found that some of my secondary characters were falling flat and I needed to flesh them out – so I wrote a quick narrative of the story from their POV, before, during, and after any actual plot of scenes in which they played a significant part. HUGELY helped.

    Still, much of this is organic for me.

  9. Andrea October 19, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I find that I tend to neglect the perspectives of my secondary characters. To strengthen them, I need to try to see what’s happening from their point of view, and what their motivations would be (sometimes they don’t make sense). The more novel writing I do, the more complicated it seems!

  10. Anna October 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    Wow, Laura, you’re being so disciplined about all of this. I can see how figuring plot and character beforehand would be very handy. Next time I have an idea for a project, maybe I’ll try to restrain myself and do some of this work beforehand (instead of jumping in and then doing it when I’m stuck). 🙂

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