How To Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

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Have you ever heard of the Snowflake method?

It is an effective and fun way to write a novel. If you get stuck in the planning stages of your story, consider following the Snowflake Method to get your mind going.

A lot of writers experience writer’s block. Some have a hard time getting going when in the early planning stages of their novel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to get yourself rolling again.

And getting yourself rolling and writing, while building on that story idea, is what the Snowflake Method is all about.

What is the Snowflake Method?

The Snowflake Method is a constructive building process, done in steps, to help you build the skeleton of your novel with some structure. Typically, it takes a few weeks to a month or so to complete the process, and it allows you to build the foundation of your story.

While some writers absolutely hate the concept of structure and steps, as well as the commitment this method takes, and prefer to write when their muse is right, that’s understandable. However, this method is certainly worth a try, as you might find your productivity and organization both increase with it—which is why so many writers vouch for its effectiveness.

So, if you wish to learn more about the method, read on. Its ten steps are broken up and summarized for you, and you can see if it helps you get motivated to work on that story.

You can also experiment with it to see if it results in a possible increase in your writing output, which is never a terrible thing.

Part I.

Set aside an hour or so and summarize your novel in one sentence.

This sentence is going to be important, and it needs to thought of as a selling point. It’s part of the bigger triangle area in your snowflake. This write-up is the type of sentence you’d want to include in your book proposal, and should work as an engaging hook which should make your readers want to read more.

Keep the sentence short and simple, and no more than fifteen or so words. Also, avoid character names while connecting the larger concept of the novel with some personalization.

If you need a few good examples, check out the one-liners typically used to advertise New York Times best seller.

Part II.

Now that you have a one sentence starting point expand on it and make it a full paragraph.

This concept is the second stage of the snowflake method. Try to think of three major conflict points in the story, and the conclusion to summarize your paragraph and story idea.

Another thing to remember about this is that you can use this paragraph in your book proposal as well.

Part III.

Storylines for every character now become important. For each character, sit down and write a one-page summary of his or her events. Try to include things about the character like the storyline, motivation, goal, conflicts, and any major epiphanies the character may experience.

Part IV.

Keep on nurturing that story idea so that it continues to blossom. Take each sentence of your summary paragraph and try to expand each one of those sentences into a paragraph.

Make sure that each paragraph has some conflict in it to move the plot forward. Do this for every paragraph except the last one – that’s reserved for the conclusion.

Part V.

Now it is time to make your character synopses.

Compose one-page summaries for each main character, and for smaller characters, focus on half-page summaries. Get into the minds of each character and write these summaries from each character’s point of view.

Part VI.

Take your single page plot summary and try to extend it to four pages. The idea is to take each paragraph from the fourth step here and extend it out. While completing this step, you may go back to earlier stages and revise key ideas.

Part VII.

Character descriptions now need to be extended all the way out to everything – you need to know about each character.

Put a lot of thought into this, because the way your characters develop can change the nature of the way the story evolves itself.

Once you’ve finished this, and this is one of the most time-consuming steps, you probably have all you need to complete a proposal.

Part VIII.

Before starting the first draft, take your four-page synopsis and break down a list of all of the scenes. You may want to use a spreadsheet for this.

Part IX.

Compose a narrative description of your story from your spreadsheet.

You can take each planned scene and extend it out to a detailed description. If you find that a scene is missing conflict, you can either take it out or add conflict, which should help you to balance your story.

Part X.

You are now officially to the stage of writing the first draft—probably the most enjoyable part of the writing process. So keep composing, and enjoy!

Wrapping it up with another plug for structured planning

Now that you have taken the time to learn more about the Snowflake Method, you can see it’s all about structured planning. Each step builds off the next and gives you a more in-depth take on your plot, your theme, your characters, and your story structure.

It’s similar to how you would build your book starting from three bullet points in an outline.

Great writing is often about great planning, and not so much about just a great idea. You might have the world’s best idea for a novel, but if you cannot plan it out on paper, it may never turn into that wonderful story.

And the world will miss out on it.

So if you’re stuck, or want to try something new, don’t be afraid of structured steps—you might be pleasantly surprised at your results!

Still want more?

Randy Ingermanson literally wrote the book on the Snowflake Method where he goes into more depth on each of these steps and how each part of the snowflake will eventually lead to your finished product. You can see his listing on Author Stash here.