Fiction 101, by Randy Ingermanson
Best known as “the Snowflake Guy”, novelist Randy Ingermanson is a popular teacher of fiction writing techniques and marketing. His Fiction 101 is a series of lectures and handouts that writers can use as part of their professional development.
Some of the material included in this course is available on his website: definitions of different writing stages, the Snowflake method etc. I’d recommend checking out what writing level you’re at before buying, although even the most experienced writers can benefit from a refresher of fiction basics.
Fiction 101 is for people who want to write novels, and it looks at the craft and components – and the necessary commitment. Randy’s lectures are easy to follow and laced with humour. He gives practical examples of what works and what doesn’t, and often suggest books for further study.
The course looks at key issues like characters, motivation, point of view, plot (on three levels: the big picture [beginning – middle – end], the medium picture [scenes and sequels] and the little picture [motivation-reaction units]), dialogue, theme.
Fiction 101 wouldn’t be complete with Randy’s signature “Snowflake” method for novel design. If this course isn’t for you, you might still want to check out his Snowflake method.
He says he doesn’t teach writers to create, but to analyse and organize that creation. This can be done ahead of time or after the first draft, whichever suits your style. He encourages students to adapt the Snowflake stages to suit their needs.
To help you along, the course includes a blank character chart and a sample Snowflake and scene spreadsheet.
As well as the basic craft of fiction, Fiction 101 addresses work habits and conferences. These talks come at the end of the course, after we’ve studied the basics of the craft, and they’re very candid about the work involved. Having come this far, we’re not likely to scare easily, but if we’re to progress we need to be intentional.
Randy Ingermanson bills himself as “America’s mad scientist of fiction writing.” His monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine always contains something helpful. It’s free, and back issues are available on the site. Along with his six novels, he’s also written Writing Fiction for Dummies.
Fiction 101 is available as an electronic download for $80 USD. You can listen to the first Fiction 101 lesson for free.