Snowflake Method for Series Development


Let me start by saying I did not create the Snowflake Method. It was developed by Randy Ingermanson as a way to iteratively develop a novel from the top down. It’s a narrative outline approach. It has ten steps for design, which I have adapted to writing a larger series. I list a summary of the steps below, but really think you should check out Randy’s site for his portion.

Snowflake Applied to a Series

A few steps are all that changes Snowflake from a novel-writing approach to a series-writing approach. Once you’ve finished Step 3, you have an integrated novel series. When you expand the novels through Snowflake-3, you have enough understanding of the entire series and its characters to have a fairly successful series.

  1. Series Summary. Snowflake-00 Write a one-sentence summary of your entire novel series
  2. Series Synopsis Snowflake-0. Expand that sentence into a series synopsis paragraph, with each sentence leading to a Story Logline.
  3. Snowflake-1. (Story Summary) Shoot for 3-4 sentences per series act. The result is 12-16 novels.
  4. Snowflake-2. (Story Synopsis)
  5. Snowflake-3. (Character Sketch)

Randy’s Ten Steps of Design via Snowflake

This is an iterative process with a feedback loop. You start on at the first step then progress. When you find you need to go back to an earlier step, then do it, and iterate back through.

  1. Tagline. Write a one-sentence tagline of your story. Twenty words or less, generic. Check out the New York Times Best Seller List, even if it’s a rigged system. (1 Hour)
  2. Story Summary. Expand that one sentence to a paragraph using the “three disasters plus ending” as your guide. That is, write a four-sentence paragraph. Each sentence corresponds to an act (since I favor the four-act structure). (1 Hour)
  3. Character Sketch. One-page summary of your character, showing the inner quality. I like to think of an actor for the physical description, though any actor famous today would unlikely be in anything I write. It’s just helpful. (1 Hour each)
  4. Story Synopsis. Expand the paragraph in #2 above by turning each sentence into its own paragraph. This will get you to a one-page summary. (1 Hour)
  5. Character Development. Expand each major character into a full page. Each minor character should get a half-page. This will ensure you understand your characters before step 6. (1-2 Days)
  6. Story Treatment. Expand each sentence in #4 into its own paragraph. This yields a four-page narrative story outline. More importantly, each sentence here would be a full scene in your story. (1 Week)
  7. Character Completion. This is full character development. I guess I rarely complete this step on paper.
  8. Scene List Take the sentences in #6 and organize it (cards, spreadsheet, Scrivener, whatever)
  9. Scene Breakdown. (Optional) Expand each scene into a paragraph.
  10. First Draft. Um, you write right now.
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