As you may have heard, there are two kinds of writer in this world: planners and pantsers.

Planners like to plan out their story in advance, down to outlining every scene before they put pen to paper.

JK’s plan for Order of the Phoenix

Pantsers like to hit the page running, with maybe only the vaguest idea of where this story is going and write ‘by the seat of their pants’.

Actually I think most writers combine both of these strategies to some extent. I’ve always been mostly a pantser but lately I’m coming round to the benefits of doing some planning (it really does save time in the long run). So I thought I’d share one of my favourite planning tools in case any of your young writers are natural planners or would like to try planning their stories in advance.

There are loads of very complicated (and fascinating) theories about story structure, but I like The Snowflake Method because it’s so very simple. It’s just ten steps that take you from a one sentence description of your story, to a description that’s several pages and includes character synopses and even lists of scenes if you want to go that far. I usually get to about step 6 and find that’s enough to start writing but if you’re someone who thrives on planning and organisation you can go the whole hog and do spreadsheets and everything.

You can find The Snowflake Method on various sites but I took mine from here. This is aimed at published writers so I’ve further simplified it and made this document for young writers that you can download for your writing groups. Even doing the first 5 or 6 steps of the ten is a really good way to brainstorm your story and get started. Download here: The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel

In other news:

MoLI is offering a five-day, immersive, blended learning programme to 15 lucky students aged 15-17 around Ireland. The Edna O’Brien Young Writers Bursary will take place both online and onsite in MoLI from 19 to 23 July 2021.

You will be mentored through a creative writing project by one of Ireland’s leading writers, and you’ll meet with publishers, authors, literature academics and fellow writing enthusiasts. 

They aren’t looking for polished, finished pieces of writing, or writers with large amounts of experience. They are simply interested in hearing about you, your passion and your creativity.

Travel costs and meals will be provided for all week-long bursary attendees. Entry is easy and doesn’t cost anything. The closing date for applications is 10pm on 29 March 2021.

Find out more here.


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