Exploring the Snowflake method

The Snowflake method is the brainchild of Randy Ingermanson. Freely available online, it’s one of the first methods/writing processes that I started playing around with. It’s great for plotters, although pantsers might like to give it a pass, since it’s heavy on the planning. There’s also no world-building to speak of, but there’s nothing to stop you slotting in something like the 30 Days of World-building Exercises to suit your needs. 


Good for plotters with a story already in mind.

What’s awesome about it?

  1. Step three, the character summary sheet
  2. Each of the nine steps are simple and (relatively) easy to accomplish
  3. I made a Scrivener template for it.

What’s not-so-awesome about it?

  1. The method assumes you already have the rough outline of a story ready to go, and there’s no facility for brainstorming or exploring an idea.
  2. I keep getting stalled on step six, the four-page synopsis.

The awesome stuff

Step three, the character summary sheet is all about outlining the things that drive your main characters, and then distilling that information into a one-paragraph summary of their individual  storylines. More than steps one and two, in which you summarise the plot, this helped me conceptualise my plot, not just for one book, but an entire series.

By the end of step three, I didn’t just have one-paragraph summaries of my protagonist’s storyline through each of the four books (it was originally going to be a trilogy, but through this process I realised it needed one more installment), I had four awesome blurbs for a series I can’t wait to read!

Each of the nine steps are clearly explained and easy to do. You don’t have to understand how to use a beat sheet or Hauge’s six-point story structure (although, it’s helpful if you do), you can just jump right on in.

The not-so-awesome stuff

You need to have an idea of the story you’re going to write, before you get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if all you have in mind is a vague idea of a story you might like to write, the Snowflake method isn’t going to help. Particularly not when step one asks you to write a one-sentence summary of your plot.

f you need to brainstorm or explore an idea, I’ve found mind maps, word association and ‘what if’ questions work quite well.

Step six, the four-page synopsis, does my head in. I can see the value in it, and how brilliantly it will work with step eight (the outline), but there’s something about the word ‘synopsis’ that hits the ‘freak out now’ button in my brain.

If you’re like me, and synopses make you nuts, you could do what I did and substitute step six for the seven-point plot system. It won’t give you the same level of detail, but you can add that at step eight by writing a brief description of each chapter/scene instead of a single line, as suggested.

Other opinions

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.