Every writer falls on an outlining spectrum, and certain projects might require more or less preparation beforehand. In 2011, bestselling novelist and writing expert Randy Ingermanson unveiled a new method: the Snowflake Method. Midnight Publishing is an Arizona-based editing and writing company that has been helping clients draft, revise, edit, and publish their books for nearly a decade. One of the ways we do that is by sharing new approaches to getting your words on the page. Let’s explore the first three steps of this innovative method to outlining your books now.

Essentially, the Snowflake Method is a system of “blocks” that build off one another. You start small with an overarching idea, before continuing to refine and flesh out the details in subsequent summaries. This style enables you to create a loose framework for the entirety of your book (as opposed to a chronological outline) while allowing scenes, characters, settings, and plot points the ability to change later.

the snowflake method: idea

A Deeper Look Into The Snowflake Method

Step 1: Write a Sentence Encompassing the Book’s Entire Plot

Ingermanson suggests no more than 15 words, and to avoid character names while instead using descriptions. Here’s one of his examples, from the Snowflake Method presentation at ACFW in September 2011:

“A boy wizard begins his training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents.” -Harry Potter #1, J.K. Rowling

This one sentence already gives you the primary goal to keep in mind as you draft (incredibly useful in avoiding “darlings” and bunny trails that you will take out later on!). It is also a valuable marketing tool later on.

Step 2: Write a One-Paragraph Summary of the Book

the snowflake method: writing

This summary should introduce us to t