Last week, Midnight Publishing introduced the Snowflake Method of outlining in our blog post (haven’t read it yet? Find it here in our archives!). Designed and taught by bestselling author and writing expert Randy Ingermanson, this method of outlining takes a much more organic approach to preparing for book writing than a chronological design. By building off each summary and character description, the material is fleshed out in a way that allows the author to truly understand their characters in a new way.
In part one of this series, we discussed the first three steps to the Snowflake Method: writing a sentence to encompass the book, then expanding it to one paragraph, and creating one-paragraph descriptions for the main characters. Now let’s explore Ingermanson’s next four steps:
4. Expand Your Story’s One-Paragraph Summary to a One-Page Summary
Ingermanson says a good rule of thumb is to lengthen each sentence of the paragraph into its own paragraph, adding more details as you go. Look at it as simply extrapolating on the founding structure you already have.
5. For Each Character, Write the Plot’s One-Paragraph Summary From Their Point of View
Here’s Ingermanson’s example of Peeta Mellark’s expanded character description:
“In a dystopic future America where most people are hungry, Peeta Mellark has a secret crush on a beautiful young woman, Katniss, who barely knows he exists. When both Peeta and Katniss are forced into the Hunger Games, Peeta vows to sacrifice himself for Katniss, but his crush on her is revealed on national TV. In the arena, Peeta joins forces with the “career tributes” by offering to help them kill Katniss, but when they corner her, he defends her and receives a deadly wound. Katniss nurses him back to health but then Peeta accidentally kills one of the other tributes, leaving him and Katniss among the three final survivors. The third tribute, Cato, captures Peeta and begins choking him to death while Katniss watches.”
(Works cited: Ingermanson, Randy. The Snowflake Method: How To Design Your Novel Before You Write It Or Redesign It After It’s Written. 2011)
6. Expand the Page-Long Summary to a Four or Five Page Summary
This will be done in the same manner as before, by lengthening each paragraph in the one-page summary to its own page in the five-page summary. Ingermanson says this step is typically what highlights plot holes, and requires the most restructuring (thankfully, you’ve most likely put in a few hours’ worth of outlining so far on previous summaries).
7. Write Character Charts that are Several Pages Long Including ALL the Details
So far you’ve written a paragraph-long description of each main character, and another plot summary from each character’s point of view. Now, you’re going to write a detailed character description that includes birthdate, family history, personality traits, quirks, and of course their goals and motivations throughout the book.
Ingermanson says you can choose to write out all your scenes now, and recommends a spreadsheet program like Excel. After all of your scenes have been mapped out, and you have your character descriptions and plot summaries nearby to refer back to (Midnight Publishing recommends printing out hard copies for easy reading), it’s time to write the first draft!
Midnight Publishing is an award-winning staff of editors and writers based out of Phoenix, Arizona, who’ve made it their mission to help every author produce work they’re proud of. Contact us anytime for a free sample edit of your first 1,000 words, because we can’t wait to help you get started on your publishing journey today!