Award-winning author Randy Ingermanson created and wrote the book How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. After trying other writing and outlining methods in the past, the Snowflake Method is what I faithfully used to jumpstart my next novel idea.
I get to see the growth of one simple sentence expanded into a full novel. I also get to know my characters better than I know myself. And using this method, I’m able to reduce the stress and anxiety when confronted with the blank page, because I have a blueprint of my story right in front of me. And outlining using the Snowflake Method allows me to be flexible with my creativity.
So what is the Snowflake Method? The Snowflake Method of writing is taking one simple sentence and transforming it into multiple ideas, creating a full-blown novel. That one sentence is the central idea of your story. Then you expand outwardly (think of the structure of a snowflake, the center with many branches of flakes) adding more idea’s to the central theme until you finish writing your novel.
There are 10-steps of the Snowflake Method, and I use each step to jump-start my novel idea. This is how I outline my cozy mystery. You can use this method for any genre. However, not all writing methods may cater to your style of writing, but it won’t hurt to grab a few golden nuggets from other methods as add them to your writing style.
Write a one-sentence summary in 25 words or less; mention the setting, backdrop, one or two main characters, and their story goals without giving away the story.
Write a one-paragraph summary expanding on the one-sentence summary.
* Use the 3-Act Structure formula: (I personally divide Act 2 into two steps)
1. Summarize Act One, which ends with a disaster. This forces your MC to commit to the story.
2. Summarize the first half of Act Two, which ends with a second disaster. This will cause your MC to change their thinking– from a false moral premise to a true one.
3. Summarize the second half of Act Two, which ends in a third disaster. This will cause your MC to commit to the end of the story.
4. Summarize Act Three (I call it the do or die- fight or flight moment) It’s the final showdown where you MC will either win or lose. You resolve the story with a happy, sad, or bittersweet ending.
Write a summary sheet for each character, focusing primarily on the main characters with these questions in mind.
· role in the story
· goal (concrete goal in the story)
· ambition (what drives your character to achieve their goal)
· value (three things your character values the most)
· conflict (what prevents your character from achieving their goals)
· epiphany (what will your character learn? It’s that ah-ha moment)
Write a short one-page synopsis.
Go back to the summary you wrote in step two, and expand each sentence into a paragraph of its own. This step is for your eyes only and will give you an oversite of the big picture of your story.
Write a Character Synopsis for each character.
This step helps you to add depth to your characters: what they want out of life, where they fit in the story, and how why they act the way they do. This also allows your characters to tell their point of view. The better you know your characters the better your final novel will be.
Write a Long Four-Page Synopsis
Go back to Step Four and take each paragraph and expand into a page. This is for your benefit only, but this step will help you flesh out more details in your story, discover emerging themes, and get deeper inside your characters.
Write a Character Bible for each character
This is where you will save all the details about your characters. Include the physical, personality, environmental, and psychological information. Keep it on a spreadsheet or where you can easily assess your character’s information. This is particularly helpful when writing a series.
Create a list of all scenes
The scenes are the foundation of fictional writing. And each scene happens in a particular place, time, and includes certain characters. Each scene must have a conflict that fuels your story forward. A typical story will usually have 50-100 scenes.
Create a plan for each scene
Jot down some crucial information for each scene, such as the setting, the characters in each scene, amazing dialogue snippets, and whatever else needed to help you write the scene. This is also the place to analyze your scenes as being proactive or reactive.
Write your novel.
You have a complete blueprint of your story. You have a good hook, a sound three-act structure, characters with depth, a list of scenes with conflict that will drive your story forward. The creativity is up to you to design as a full-blown novel.
Remember there are many other methods in writing and outlining your novel. Some may work for you and some may not, but I promise you can always grab one or two golden nuggets and apply it to your own personal writing style.