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The Snowflake Method | Randy Ingermanson Technique Explained

Ever wonder if writing a novel is like shaping a snowflake? Well, today, we’re diving into the Snowflake Method—a fascinating technique by Randy Ingermanson that’s worth exploring.

In this article, I will delve into what the Snowflake Method entails, its benefits, how it works, and provide examples of how it can be implemented in writing.

If you’re looking to enhance your writing process and create a well-structured novel or story, the Snowflake Method might be the technique you’ve been searching for.

Snowflake writing method

The Snowflake Method was coined by Randy Ingermanson, a theoretical physicist and award-winning author of six novels.

The method is based on the idea that a story can be built by starting with a simple concept and gradually expanding it, much like how a snowflake forms layer by layer.

This method aims to assist authors in developing a solid foundation for their stories before diving into the actual writing process, ultimately leading to a more coherent and well-crafted end product.


What is the Snowflake Method in writing?

The Snowflake Method is a popular approach to novel outlining and writing developed by author Randy Ingermanson. It’s based on the idea of starting with a simple concept and gradually expanding it, much like the fractal patterns of a snowflake. The method involves a series of steps, starting with a single sentence summarizing the story, then expanding it into a paragraph, and further developing it into character sketches, scene outlines, and eventually a full-fledged novel.

The Benefits of Using the Snowflake Method

One of the primary benefits of using the Snowflake Method is the clarity and structure it brings to the writing process. By starting with a single sentence summarizing your story’s essence, you are forced to distill your ideas down to their core elements. This initial step helps you better understand your story’s central theme and sets the stage for the subsequent steps in the Snowflake Method.

Another advantage of this method is that it allows you to identify and resolve potential issues in your story early on. As you gradually expand your story, step by step, you have the opportunity to spot any plot holes, inconsistencies, or weak characterizations. By addressing these issues in the planning phase, you can save countless hours of rewriting and revision in the later stages of your writing process.

Furthermore, the Snowflake Method provides direction and purpose throughout the writing journey. With each subsequent step, you delve deeper into your story, fleshing out characters, developing subplots, and refining the overall structure. This systematic approach helps alleviate writer’s block and provides a roadmap that keeps you on track, even when the creative juices may not flow as freely as desired.

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method 10 steps

The Snowflake Method comprises ten steps. Each step is built upon the previous one to gradually expand your story. Let’s take a closer look at these steps.

1) One Sentence Summary

Begin by writing a single sentence that captures the essence of your story. This sentence should introduce the main character, their goal, and the conflict they face.

Remember to keep it concise and compelling.

2) Expand the Sentence

Expand the sentence into a full paragraph, providing more details about the main character, their motivation, and the central conflict.

This step allows you to start fleshing out your initial idea.

3) Character Profiles

Develop detailed profiles for each of your main characters. Consider their background, personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, and how they fit into the overall story.

Understanding your characters on a deeper level will make them more authentic and relatable to your readers.

4) Plot Summary

Create a one-page summary of your story’s plot. Highlight the major plot points, key events, and the climax.

Although concise, this summary should give a clear overview of your story’s structure and progression.

5) Character Synopses

Write a one-page synopsis for each main character, outlining their journey and how they contribute to the overall plot. Explore their individual growth, conflicts, and relationships with other characters.

This step helps you ensure that each character has a purpose and adds depth to your story.

6) Expanded Plot Summary

Expand the one-page plot summary into a four-page synopsis. This step allows you to delve into the details of your story, including specific scenes, character interactions, and subplots.

Focus on creating a cohesive narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

7) Scene List

Create a comprehensive list of all the scenes in your story. Briefly describe the purpose and conflict of each scene, ensuring they align with your overall plot.

This step helps you visualize the flow of your story and identify any gaps or pacing issues.

8) Character Chart

Develop a chart that tracks the actions and motivations of each character throughout your story. This chart acts as a reference tool and helps you maintain consistency in character development.

It ensures that each character’s actions align with their goals and motivations.

9) First Draft

Armed with the comprehensive plan you’ve developed using the Snowflake Method, it’s time to start writing your first draft. Begin at the beginning and work your way through the scenes and chapters, following the roadmap you’ve created.

Don’t worry about perfection at this stage; focus on getting your ideas down on paper.

10) Revision and Polishing

Once you’ve completed your first draft, take the time to revise and polish your work. Pay attention to the overall structure, character arcs, and plot progression. Refine your prose, eliminate inconsistencies, and ensure your story flows smoothly.

This step is crucial in transforming your draft into a polished and publishable piece of writing.

Examples of using the Snowflake Method in writing

To better understand how the method can be implemented in practice, let’s explore a couple of snowflake method examples of implementation.

Example 1

Title: “The Lost Crown”.

One Sentence Summary: A young archaeologist discovers a cryptic map that leads her on a perilous journey to uncover a long-lost crown and save her endangered heritage.

Expanded Sentence: Driven by her passion for history and a desire to preserve her ancestral legacy, Amelia, a young archaeologist, stumbles upon a mysterious map hidden in her late grandfather’s belongings. As she unravels the cryptic clues, she realizes that the map leads to a lost crown, a symbol of power and protection for her endangered heritage. With ruthless treasure hunters hot on her trail, Amelia embarks on a perilous journey, navigating ancient ruins, decoding enigmatic symbols, and unearthing long-buried secrets.

In this example, we can see how the Snowflake Method helps develop a clear narrative, introduces the main character, her goal, and the conflict she faces.

Example 2

Title: “The Forgotten Symphony”.

One Sentence Summary: An aspiring composer, haunted by a tragic past, rediscovers his passion for music as he strives to compose a symphony that will heal the wounds of his broken soul.

Expanded Sentence: Daniel, an aspiring composer haunted by the tragic loss of his family in a devastating accident, has abandoned his love for music. Plagued by guilt and grief, he leads a monotonous existence. However, a chance encounter with a talented young violinist reignites his passion, and he embarks on a journey to compose a symphony that will heal the wounds of his broken soul. Along the way, he confronts his painful past, finds solace in his music, and learns to embrace the power of forgiveness and redemption.

In this example, the Snowflake Method helps establish the protagonist’s background, their emotional struggle, and the transformative journey they will undertake.

Tips for successfully implementing the method

While the Snowflake outline method is a valuable tool for writers, it’s essential to approach it with the right mindset and utilize some helpful tips to ensure a successful implementation:

  1. Embrace Flexibility. Although the Snowflake Method provides a structured approach to planning, remember that creativity should not be stifled. Allow room for spontaneity and be open to modifying your plan as new ideas emerge during the writing process.
  2. Find Your Balance. Strive to strike a balance between planning and writing. While investing time in developing a comprehensive plan is crucial, don’t get caught up in endless planning without writing. Remember, the ultimate goal is to complete your story.
  3. Experiment with the Steps. Feel free to experiment with the order of the steps or adapt them to suit your writing style. The Snowflake Method is not a rigid formula but rather a framework that can be tailored to your specific needs.
  4. Stay Organized. Keep your notes, character profiles, and plot summaries organized and easily accessible. A well-structured system will help you stay focused and avoid confusion while working through your story.
  5. Trust the Process. Have faith in the Snowflake Method and trust it will guide you toward a well-crafted story. Even if you encounter challenges, persevere and remember that each step is crucial in building a solid foundation.

Common challenges and how to overcome them

While the Snowflake Method can significantly enhance your writing process, it’s important to acknowledge and address potential challenges that may arise.

  1. Feeling Overwhelmed. The Snowflake Method involves a comprehensive planning process, which can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly for writers who prefer a more intuitive approach. To overcome this challenge, break down the steps into smaller, manageable tasks. Focus on one step at a time, and gradually build upon your progress.
  2. Resisting Change. As you delve deeper into the Snowflake Method, you might encounter the temptation to resist changing your initial ideas or deviating from your original plan. Remember that flexibility is key. Embrace new possibilities and be open to refining your story as it evolves.
  3. Losing Sight of Creativity. Some writers worry that following a structured method like the Snowflake Method may stifle their creativity. To avoid this, remember that the planning phase is just the beginning. Once you start writing, allow your creativity to flow and make adjustments to your plan as necessary.
  4. Perfectionism. Striving for perfection can hinder progress and lead to stagnation. Remember that your first draft is just that – a draft. It’s essential to embrace imperfections and allow yourself the freedom to make revisions and improvements in subsequent drafts.

“You need three major resources to have a successful writing career: time, writing space, and money.”

Randy Ingermanson

Using bibisco to outline your novel

bibisco novel writing software offers valuable support for writers looking to implement the Snowflake Method in their novel-writing process. With its user-friendly interface and customizable features, bibisco allows writers to transition through each step of the Snowflake Method seamlessly.

Writers can start with a simple premise or single-sentence summary of their story and gradually expand it into a more detailed outline.

writing snowflake method - bibisco's architecture section
bibisco’s architecture section

bibisco provides tools for developing character sketches, organizing scenes, and structuring the narrative. Additionally, the software’s ability to visualize the entire novel project allows writers to keep track of their progress and easily navigate between different story elements.

Whether writers are outlining their plot or fleshing out character arcs, bibisco empowers them to effectively implement the Snowflake Method and bring their stories to life.


The Snowflake Method is a powerful technique that empowers writers to meticulously plan their stories and create well-structured narratives.

By starting with a simple concept and gradually expanding it, authors can develop a solid foundation that leads to a more coherent and compelling end product. While the process may initially seem daunting, the benefits of the Snowflake Method are undeniable.

So, whether you’re a seasoned novelist or an aspiring writer embarking on your first project, consider incorporating the Snowflake Method into your writing process. Embrace the journey of building your story layer by layer, just like a snowflake forming in the winter sky.

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