The Snowflake Method of Drafting a Novel

If the idea of methodically building your novel appeals to you, then the Snowflake Method, designed by Randy Ingermanson, might be just what you are looking for. (A link to Ingermanson’s site can be found at the end of this post.)

The Snowflake Method contains ten steps. These ten steps will take you from your concept to a completed first draft.


Step One – Write a one-sentence summary of your novel. The best summary sentence is one that includes a reference to the character who has the most to lose and the thing he or she wants most to win. The one-sentence summary for Suzanne Collins’s THE HUNGER GAMES would be something like this, “A girl tries to stay alive in a fight to the death against twenty-three other teens that is aired on live television.”

Step Two – Expand your sentence into a full paragraph. In this paragraph, you should include the story set-up, each disaster, and the ending. You can decide the cause of each disaster, whether it is internally caused or brought on by external circumstances, and include those details as well.

Step Three – Next, your characters. For each of your major characters, write a one page summary sheet that includes the following:

  • The character’s name
  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?)
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
Read the rest of this post on my group blog, Let the Words Flow, here.


  1. Very interesting!! I've never seen this before. Good stuff to ponder BEFORE I start writing...

    I've heard the best stories have an internal as well as an external conflict, interestingly. :)

  2. @Carol - I had never seen it until recently, either, though apparently it's not unknown. Hmmm. Glad you found it interesting. And yes, I agree with your assessment about internal plus external conflict. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I've heard of it, but never tried it. I spent last night brainstorming the plot of my next book -- I'm going to try using this framework to put it together, thanks!

  4. @Amie - I'm doing the same thing! I started it once before, but only got as far as the one-page synopsis when I decided I wasn't working on my best idea. So I'm starting over again with something new. Let me know how you progress!

  5. I've been meaning to try the snowflake method, but it's so different from the way I normally approach a project. I have one idea that's been kicking around in my head that just might benefit from it, though. Thanks for the info!

  6. @Anne - I'm trying it out with my latest idea, too. I think the key is to stay flexible and make it work for you, rather than the other way around. Good luck with it! :)