Tuesday, January 28, 2014


This morning the local news team mentioned something I had never heard of before. Snow Doughnuts. Check out the link: snow doughnuts

What an interesting phenomenon! I checked out a few different links on the subject, and some of the pictures showed that the snow sometimes rolls across a field and forms a long tube-shaped roll. I've never seen one of these other than in photos, but the Kansas wind and empty wheat fields would probably make this possible. In fact, I first thought I was seeing photos of large round hay bales simply covered in snow.

While these delightful surprises are a treat to find in nature, we need to avoid them in our writing. In much the same way the wind can pick up something as insubstantial as snow and roll it into a large cylinder, a tiny spark of an idea can work its way into our plot and send it off into unintended directions, wreaking havoc with our original plan. That's why  solid plot outlines and character arcs are so important when creating a novel. Ideas need to be centered and grounded; otherwise, strange winds can come along and blow them into surprising results that may turn our hard work into something insubstantial. 

When I read the articles about the snow doughnuts, I thought the formation of the hole in the middle of these rolls to be quite interesting. The middle is made up of the first snow to be picked up as it begins rolling. It isn't as packed down as the surrounding layers, so as the ball of snow rolls and picks up speed, this inner layer is easily shed. This, too, can happen in our writing. If we don't ensure that our original plan for our story is fully formed and firmly in place, we can end up with huge plot holes that develop along the way. We have to keep that initial idea firmly centered so that our story is well-rounded and complete.

I'm not suggesting that we can't develop new twists and turns as we proceed, but if we haven't carefully planned out the logical path for our story to follow by starting out with a carefully thought out plan, some strange wind may come along and carry it off much like this snowball effect.

I hope the analogies I've made here make sense. I struggle in my own writing with outlining and then sticking to it. Hopefully these ideas will help me, and possibly others, to improve on future projects. That's my plan, at least.

Lately I've had time for quite a bit of reading, so I'll soon be back to share some thoughts on a few of my latest MG acquisitions. Until then,


Cordelia Dinsmore