11 Days & 11 Ways to Plot Your Novel: Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method #NaNoWriMoPrep

You’ve probably heard of this method before.

You might have even learned it in grade school. Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method is one of the most respected methodologies for planning and writing a novel and it often appeals to writers who don’t care for the structure of an outline.

Heh, dat ain’t me dawg. Not even a little bit.

But I recognize that the Snowflake Method still sticks to the basic premise that a novel can’t be conjured out of the ether—that there needs to be some sort of planning involved. So I figured I’d give it a try while I was researching to see if I could make it work.

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1. Start with a one sentence summary of your novel.

• Set your timer for one hour.

• The sentence should be fifteen words or less and no character names.

• Tie the big picture to “personal picture.” What does the character have to lose and what do they stand to gain?

• Read NYT blurbs within your genre for inspiration.

2. Expand your sentence to a full paragraph.

• Set your timer for one hour.

• This paragraph should be about five sentences.

• Three major conflicts or disasters.

• Your ending.

3. One page summary for each character.

Do this for each character.

• Set your timer for one hour for each.

• Name.

• One sentence storyline (similar to the one sentence summary).

• Goal—what do they want?

• Motivation—what motivates them to achieve their goal?

• Conflict—what prevents them from reaching their goal?

• Epiphany—what do they learn? How will they change?

• One paragraph summary of the character’s storyline.

4. Expand each sentence in your story summary to full paragraphs.

(This is back up at step two and will take several hours.)

• All paragraphs end in disaster, except…

• Final paragraph shows how the book ends.

5. One page description of each character

(1-2 days)

• Tell a story from your character’s POV. I think this would be really good for establishing your character’s voice.

6. Expand each paragraph from #4 into a full page synopsis.

(1 week)

• High level logic and strategic decisions.

6. Expand character descriptions from #3 into full character sketches.

(1 week)

• Birthdate

• Description

• History

• Motivation

• Goal

• Epiphany

7. Turn 4 page summary from #6 into a scene spreadsheet or list.

• 1 line per scene.

• Columns for: POV character, what happens, page numbers (?)

9. (Optional) Expand each scene from your spreadsheet into a multi-paragraph description.

• Add dialogue

• Workout your conflicts.

8. Start writing your first draft!

The Snowflake Method is pretty dope because it treats each stage like an individual writing exercise. It also seems like it would be easy to teach! Each step is easily adaptable to any genre, too. I used it to map out a novella I want to write. We’ll see how it turns out.

Have any of you used the snowflake method? Tell me about it in the comments!