- Aug 2023
Ingermanson, Randy. “The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel.” Advanced Fiction Writing, circa 2013. https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/.
Designing writing in ever more specific and increasing levels. Start with a logline, then a paragraph, then acts, etc.
Roughly the advice I've given many over the years based on screenplay development experience, but with a clever name based on the Koch snowflake.
you only have to solve a limited set of problems, and so you can write relatively fast.
- Snowflake Method
- Plottr (software)
- problem solving frameworks
- Randy Ingermanson
- fiction writing
- problem solving
- Koch snowflake
- card index for fiction writing
- writing advice
- Jan 2023
Richard Feynman was fond of giving the following advice on how to be a genius. You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lie in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, “How did he do it? He must be a genius!”
Gian-Carlo Rota (1997): Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught, Notices of the American Mathematical Society 1, 1997, Vol. 44, pp. 22-25.
- Dec 2022
Lateral thinking is a manner of solving problems using an indirect and creative approach via reasoning that is not immediately obvious.
- Oct 2022
The nature of physics problem-solvingBelow are 29 sets of questions that students and physicists need to ask themselves during the research process. The answers at each step allow them to make the 29 decisions needed to solve a physics problem. (Adapted from reference 33. A. M. Price et al., CBE—Life Sci. Edu. 20, ar43 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.20-12-0276.)A. Selection and planning1. What is important in the field? Where is the field heading? Are there advances in the field that open new possibilities?2. Are there opportunities that fit the physicist’s expertise? Are there gaps in the field that need solving or opportunities to challenge the status quo and question assumptions in the field? Given experts’ capabilities, are there opportunities particularly accessible to them?3. What are the goals, design criteria, or requirements of the problem solution? What is the scope of the problem? What will be the criteria on which the solution is evaluated?4. What are the important underlying features or concepts that apply? Which available information is relevant to solving the problem and why? To better identify the important information, create a suitable representation of core ideas.5. Which predictive frameworks should be used? Decide on the appropriate level of mechanism and structure that the framework needs to be most useful for the problem at hand.6. How can the problem be narrowed? Formulate specific questions and hypotheses to make the problem more tractable.7. What are related problems or work that have been seen before? What aspects of their problem-solving process and solutions might be useful?8. What are some potential solutions? (This decision is based on experience and the results of decisions 3 and 4.)9. Is the problem plausibly solvable? Is the solution worth pursuing given the difficulties, constraints, risks, and uncertainties?Decisions 10–15 establish the specifics needed to solve the problem.10. What approximations or simplifications are appropriate?11. How can the research problem be decomposed into subproblems? Subproblems are independently solvable pieces with their own subgoals.12. Which areas of a problem are particularly difficult or uncertain in the solving process? What are acceptable levels of uncertainty with which to proceed at various stages?13. What information is needed to solve the problem? What approach will be sufficient to test and distinguish between potential solutions?14. Which among the many competing considerations should be prioritized? Considerations could include the following: What are the most important or most difficult? What are the time, materials, and cost constraints?15. How can necessary information be obtained? Options include designing and conducting experiments, making observations, talking to experts, consulting the literature, performing calculations, building models, and using simulations. Plans also involve setting milestones and metrics for evaluating progress and considering possible alternative outcomes and paths that may arise during the problem-solving process.B. Analysis and conclusions16. Which calculations and data analysis should be done? How should they be carried out?17. What is the best way to represent and organize available information to provide clarity and insights?18. Is information valid, reliable, and believable? Is the interpretation unbiased?19. How does information compare with predictions? As new information is collected, how does it compare with expected results based on the predictive framework?20. If a result is different from expected, how should one follow up? Does a potential anomaly fit within the acceptable range of predictive frameworks, given their limitations and underlying assumptions and approximations?21. What are appropriate, justifiable conclusions based on the data?22. What is the best solution from the candidate solutions? To narrow down the list, decide which of those solutions are consistent with all available information, and which can be rejected. Determine what refinements need to be made to the candidate solutions. For this decision, which should be made repeatedly throughout the problem-solving process, the candidate list need not be narrowed down to a single solution.23. Are previous decisions about simplifications and predictive frameworks still appropriate in light of new information? Does the chosen predictive framework need to be modified?24. Is the physicist’s relevant knowledge and the current information they have sufficient? Is more information needed, and if so, what is it? Does some information need to be verified?25. How well is the problem-solving approach working? Does it need to be modified? A physicist should reflect on their strategy by evaluating progress toward the solution and possibly revising their goals.26. How good is the chosen solution? After selecting one from the candidate solutions and reflecting on it, does it make sense and pass discipline-specific tests for solutions to the problem? How might it fail?Decisions 27–29 are about the significance of the work and how to communicate the results.27. What are the broader implications of the results? Over what range of contexts does the solution apply? What outstanding problems in the field might it solve? What novel predictions can it enable? How and why might the solution be seen as interesting to a broader community?28. Who is the audience for the work? What are the audience’s important characteristics?29. What is the best way to present the work to have it understood and to have its correctness and importance appreciated? How can a compelling story be made of the work?
- Aug 2022
hatis, certain problems can be formulated clearly within a framework of ideasthat is reasonably clear and well understood; certain partial solutions can beadvanced; and a range of examples can be discovered where these solutionsfail, leaving open for the time being the question whether what is needed isfurther elaboration and sharpening or a radically different approach.