The Journal: The Snowflake Guy and Stephen King

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* The Snowflake Guy
* Topic: Stephen King
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“If you like to know approximately where you’re going before you start writing, then the Snowflake Method is designed for you. If you don’t, then it’s not for you.” Randy Ingermanson, AKA The Snowflake Guy

“The Three Rings of Power [for marketing] are useless unless you also master the One Ring that Rule Them All. That One Ring is copywriting. The ability to write good headlines, strong sales copy, and a compelling call-to-action, all without smelling like a weasel. … [O]nce you learn it, you can apply it everywhere. To your website. Your newsletter. Your paid ads. And away you go.” Randy Ingermanson

“Truth is more deceptive than falsehood, for it is more frequently presented by those from whom we do not expect it, and so has against it a numerical presumption.” Ambrose Bierce

Wow, do I ever concur with that one!

“Love is blind, or so the rumor goes. There’s nothing quite like marriage for restoring its sight.” Author of The Wall Street Journal article “Foreverland”

The Snowflake Guy

For the first two quotes of the day and much more, see Debbie Burke’s brief interview with Randy Ingermanson at

See Randy’s Snowflake series of how-to books at

See Randy’s Advanced Fiction Writing blog at

And see Randy’s website at

As for the best place to learn to write sales copy, as I’ve said here before, see Dean Wesley Smith’s How to Write Fiction Sales Copy at

Finally, why am I, an old WITD guy, promoting Randy Ingermanson and his Snowflake method? Because I know not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to let go and trust themselves and their creative subconscious. (And yes, some say they simply don’t want to.)

So if you are one who needs or wants to know where the story’s going as you’re writing it, I recommend you try Ingermanson’s Snowflake method. Try the links above.

No matter which kind of writer you are (and no matter what genres you like or dislike), read on.

Topic: Stephen King

A couple of weeks ago I bought Stephen King’s novel, The Outsider. I actually bought it in paperback at a slight discount. I thought it was a new release, but it came out in 2018. Anyway, if you haven’t read it and enjoy suspenseful stories, I highly recommend it.

And if you want to study how to write suspense (or how to write period) from an absolute master, I also recommend it.

Yesterday morning at around 10 I finally opened the novel and started to read. By 4 p.m. (including a few short breaks and a half-hour walk), I’d read through page 235. My wife looked at the closed book, the part I’d read separated from the remainder by a book mark, and said, “You’ve read all that? You’re a fast reader.”

Well, okay, but I’m not a fast reader. That’s what King’s work does to me. It wasn’t that I wanted to read that much in a single sitting. It’s that I literally couldn’t set the book aside without wanting anxiously to get back to the story.

I had to find out what happened next, and next, and next. And that’s why I remained glued to the story during that five-plus hours. King’s just that good as a storyteller. And most of it boils down to four things:

* Masterful cliffhangers, even at the end of every short chapter. I approximated one “average” chapter to be a little under 600 words.

* Masterful openings, again, even at the beginning of every short chapter.

* Detail, detail, detail. If the POV character noticed a detail (a sight, smell, taste, feel or sound) it went into the book.

* Take your time. Even while delivering all of that in page-flipping short chapters, King took his time. He didn’t rush through descriptions or action scenes or character conversations.

He didn’t even rush through the scenes themselves. Most of the chapters in the book are not complete scenes. They’re major sections of scenes. And each section stands alone, by which I mean each section feels complete. You don’t recognize it as being part of a larger scene until after the fact, when you turn the page —

Whereupon you learn that what you just read was part of a larger thing and that what you thought happened at the end of the section you just read isn’t what really happened at all.

On top of that, every section of every scene engages your emotions. You live, breathe and feel with the characters, both in and peripheral to that section.

And that’s why I say over and over again that Stephen King is the only Stage 5 writer who’s writing in English today. Throughout the book (so far) it’s obvious, though in an unobtrusive way, that the characters are telling the story that they, not Stephen King, are living. But how can I tell that?

Because it’s as if I’m in the story with them. I’m involved, invested, and engaged. I learn what the characters learn as they learn it. There you go. That’s the key.

Earlier I wrote that when you turn a page and begin a new section of a scene, you learn that what you thought happened at the end of a section isn’t what happened at all. But in most cases, you couldn’t have imagined what happened. But then, neither could King himself. As Ray Bradbury said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” And as King himself has often said, he’s only the stenographer for his characters.

Of course, you or I can never be Stephen King, and that’s fine. But with enough study and attention to detail we can write our stories like Stephen King and other prolific professional fiction writers would.

As always, it’s all up to you.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “7 Unlikely Love Stories in Literature” at To be honest, I listed this one only because it talks about Gabriel García Márquez’ book Of Love and Other Demons. Márquez is another Stage 5 master, albeit one who writes in Spanish. And yes, of course I bought the book.

See “PR and Marketing Questions Answered” at I have not read this post. Be sure to temper the post with PG’s take.

See “Foreverland” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

8 thoughts on “The Journal: The Snowflake Guy and Stephen King”

  1. Very interesting to see that the Snowflake method guy is also a PhD physicist, like me. Maybe it’s a different kind of wiring.

    Thanks for the link. I think I’m past switching methods, but it may be interesting to see where mine and his intersect.

  2. I SO agree with you on Stephen King. I never read King because I thought all he wrote was horror. Was I wrong!
    His characters are so real and compelling that I can’t help but believe in and get absorbed into their reality.
    I’m hoping that my subconscious is soaking up some of his craft, as I haven’t stopped to actively try to learn from his books.
    There are benefits to coming late to the party. I have so many King books left to read. Wooooo!
    Thanks Harvey, for the nudges over the years to read him.
    I also recommend King’s book, “On Writing”. Thanks for that too Harvey.

    • Thanks, Karen. If I may, when you start studying King, pick one aspect of his writing (perhaps one passage that blew you away or one paragraph that pulls you irrevocably forward) and then study only that and how he pulled it off. When you feel you’ve “got” it, move on to something else. Easy to become overwhelmed if you try to go too fast or absorb too much.

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