As I’ve mentioned, I’m both starting a new novel and presenting a workshop on outlining. For the workshop, I will be talking about the Snowflake Method developed. by Randy Ingermanson, so I decided to try it for my new story.
It’s not easy…
…but, if you’re a plotter, you may love it.
Step 1: Basically you start out with one sentence that summarizes your story. Ingermanson suggests that sentence be fifteen (15) words or fewer. (He also suggests taking an hour to come up with this sentence.)
Try it. Summarize a story you’ve written or one you are writing in one 15-word sentence.
The nice thing is, once you have that sentence, you can use it as a tag line or elevator pitch.
Step 2: Expand that one sentence into a 5-sentence paragraph with one sentence summarizing the beginning (setup) of your story, three sentences for the major plot points, and one sentence for the conclusion. (Again, he suggests taking an hour to create this paragraph.)
The nice thing with this paragraph is it can be the basis of your query letter and can be expanded to create a synopsis.
Step 3: At this point, Ingermanson suggests creating character interviews for each of your major characters. Start as you do for step one: write the character’s name and a one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline. Then, besides a physical description, tell the character’s GMC (goal and motivation/both abstract and concrete, along with what’s keeping the character from reaching his/her goal) and what will he/she learn (the character’s arc). After that, write a one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline.
In addition to helping you understand your characters, this process may also help you decide whose point-of-view to use for each scene. (Which character will gain the most or lose the most?)
Steps 4 to 10: From this point on, it depends on how detailed you want to be. (Like a snowball, you’re building layer upon layer.) You can expand the descriptions of what will happen in each scene, expand the character sheets, and/or try writing scenes from different points of view to see which works best.
Personally, I would never write the book if I did all of that. It would take all of the surprises out of the writing process. I like my characters to take over and direct (or change) what’s planned. If something doesn’t seem to be working, I might go back and try writing parts from a different pov, but I don’t see myself doing it for every scene.
I’ve done steps 1 and 2 so far for my new story, now I need to work on those character interviews. Overall, I think the snowflake method is too detailed for me, but there is a lot about it that works, and I’m willing to try anything that works. What about you?
For more information about the snowflake method, Google “snowflake method.” Randy Ingermanson has a book for sale through Amazon (the ebook isn’t expensive) and a web page where he describes the method in detail.