See How Easily You Can Write A Novel Using The Snowflake Method

How to Write a Novel: The Snowflake MethodThere are many methodologies and techniques for writing a novel. Perhaps one of the most respected and potentially useful is Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method.

The founding concept behind Ingermanson’s thinking is that novels are designed. He suggests that if a writer recognises this fact and works to improve the design process, they will produce a better novel.

Ingermanson has constructed a 10 step process, which I have summarised below. This process is based around the idea that a writer begins with a simplistic Deep Theme and then, over time, develops and adds complexity. This makes the formation of the novel a conscious process, rather then a random creative exercise.

I am not saying that this is the ‘best’ method to write a novel. In fact, I feel many writers will be horrified at such detailed levels of planning. However, some writers will find an affinity with the Snowflake Method. If you are a writer that plans, this post might just change your writing life!

The Snowflake Method Ten Step Process

1. Write a one-sentence summary of your novel.

2. Expand the sentence to a paragraph describing the story narrative, any major events and the ending.

3. Now consider the main character and write a one page summary for each, considering the following points:

  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline.
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?).
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?).
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?).
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?.
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline.

4. Go back to the summary you wrote in 2 and expand each sentence into a paragraph. Randy’s advice here is:

Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends. Source

5. Write a one page description for each major character, which tells the story from their point of view.

6. Expand your one page plot synopsis into a four page plot synopsis.

7. Expand your character descriptions from 3 into full ‘character charts’.

8. Using the expanded synopsis, make a list of every scene you will need to write to complete the novel.

9. Using the scene list, write a multi-paragraph narrative description of each scene.

10. Write your first draft.

This post is a summary of Ingermanson’s thinking and ideas. I strongly suggest that if you wish to apply the Snowflake Method that you go to Randy Ingermanson’s website to find more details.

About the Author

By Gary Smailes - Co-founder at BubbleCow, helping writers to write, get published and sell more books. Google+ Twitter

  • Ciara Ballintyne

    This method seems to involve doing all the things writers hate the most, first. Strangely enough, it’s not appealing. But then every writer is different, I suppose this might work for some.

  • BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    I would suggest that if nothing else you try step 3…

  • Maureen Crisp

    This method is great for starting with a basic framework! Then of course you start writing and it all changes. LOL I have gone backwards with this model….for editing and at the end come out with a great synopsis and tag line…
    Whatever works…
    I’ll link to this in my weekly roundup….Gary. 
    New Zealand

  • BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    Thanks - I am glad it was of use.

  • Cary Caffrey

    I used to use this technique. It was what was taught to me (drilled into me, really) by teachers I respected. 
    But over time I came to see that this was a logical process, and in my case, counter-productive.So what’s my problem with a logical process?I grew to realize that the logical, analytical part of my brain isn’t very creative. The logical part of my brain also tends to stomp all over the creative side, often to the point where I’d stop writing. I find myself much more productive starting with an extremely loose and vague synopsis (I rarely even write it down). I don’t worry about the details until I’ve written a few early drafts of some scenes - kind of like chiseling at the stone for a bit to see what shape lies underneath. I like to throw an awful lot of stuff up against the wall just to see what sticks. I also tend to throw a lot out.I find this approach also me more flexibility - or maybe it’s me who’s more flexible working this way.Then - and only then - will I invite my logical, critical, analytical self join the party and start hacking things into shape. There’s definitely dangers doing it my way. A lot of stuff gets thrown out. It also demands that I’m hyper critical of what I write.There’s no question these steps have merit. I just find I like to bring them in a bit later into the process.But…that’s just me. :)

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  • Sophia Chang

    Ah, a very Dean Wesley Smith school of thought.  I’m also a big pantser and once I plot something down, I have absolutely no fire to write it anymore :)  We all work differently.

  • BubbleCow [Gary Smailes]

    I think that this kind of hard core planning is, indeed, a turn off for many writers. However, I feel that it is essential that writers do some kind of planning, if only to determine the inciting incident and the resultant resolution.

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  • Gill Wyatt

    I haven’t come across the Snowflake Method before but it looks very helpful.  I shall try this during my novel writing for NaNoWriMo. Many thanks for sharing this.

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  • Tess Haranda

    I think one of the most important considerations is that this method comes from a published author, not just a writer.  Many of us write, we consider ourselves writers, but are we published authors?  Are we writing what will sell? Is that your personal intent? I think Randy gives us exactly the kind of method to follow that appeals to the largest audience - a crowd who may not appreciate syntax, craft, and the blood/sweat/tears of writing.

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  • B-Kun

    I am currently trying this method. Well to be honest I have merged things I like about this method with my own method (since I am the kind of writer that goes back and forth between planning and writing).

    Very helpful, but maybe not in the way it is intended to be helpful.

    I’ve found that if I switch back and forth from creative mode to planning mode this helps me a lot. Especially #3. My characters seemed to have developed more “depth” with the aid of #3.

    Some people have said that it hinders the creative process, and that it involves doing things that most writers hate doing. I found neither to be the case. If anything it was a good brainstorming exercise for me (if you don’t follow the rules too strictly), and I enjoy planning my writing because I found that planning is often times a good remedy for writer’s block (which I would argue writers hate more than anything else).

  • Gary Smailes

    Tess - Writing is a method of communication with the reader, be that a poem or a technical manual. Publishing is producing a book that someone will buy. They are not always the same thing.

  • Gary Smailes

    I am a huge fan of cherry picking the best techniques from one method and making them fit your own system.

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