How to Write a Novel : Method 2

Method 2:  Have a plan.  Make an outline.  Snowflake method of Randy Ingermanson

  1. Start by writing a one sentence summary of your novel.  This will serve you through the story as a quick reminder of the selling tool, the big picture of the story.  It is the hook that will sell your story, so make it important.  (Do not use characters names, which character has the most to lose, and what he or she wants in the end)
  2. Expand the sentence into a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.  Remember this is just a guideline, you of course can add or change anything at any time, just remember to rework your first sentence if it doesn’t hold true with the changes you made.  Goal, 5 sentences, one for the story set up, one for each aspect of the story, make it three parts, and one for the ending.  Yes, this paragraph will probably be on the back cover of the book.
  3. Characters are the most important part of your novel.  If you take your time to designing them up front will pay off when you start writing.  For each major characters write a one page summary sheet that tells:

i.      Character’s name

ii.      Characters story line

iii.      Character’s goal

iv.      Character’s conflict

v.      Character’s epiphany (what he or she will learn, how they will change?

vi.      One paragraph summary of character’s storyline

You may need to go back and revise once you start writing or as the story evolves and yes do that.  It shows that you are growing with your characters.  Go ahead and revise as you go, so that you don’t have to do all the revisions at the end

The only purpose of each step is to get to the next.  Keep you moving forward, because you can always come back and fix the story later when you better understand the story itself?

  1. Now that you have a good idea of the structure of your novel.  Next is the development stage.  Take several hours or days and expand each sentence of the summary paragraph.  The last paragraph should tell how the book ends.  By expanding each sentence into a full paragraph by the end you should have your rough draft for a synopsis
  2. Take your time writing up a one page description of each major character and a half page description of the other important characters.  These should be written in the point of view of each character.  When done with this you should have a character based synopses.  Editors love character synopses, because editors love character based fiction.  My problem with this is I never know how my novels are going to end until I am there.
  3. With all the pre-work you have done you should be looking at solid story with several story threads, including one for each character.  Now you will expand each paragraph into a full-page.  I find this to be my most difficult task when using this method.  But if this works for you it could be the most fun.  You are adding content to your story.  Laying out how and why we got to the one line explanation earlier.  But keep in mind, if your story changes make changes to the previous work you have done.
  4. Now that you have been writing the story the characters have taken on more feeling.  You can now take more time to expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character.

i.      Birthdate

ii.      Description

iii.      History

iv.      Motivation

v.      Goal

vi.      How will character change by end of novel

As your characters become real to you, you will want to go back revise your previous work if it no longer matches.

  1. Take your four page synopsis and make a list of all the scenes that you will need to turn the story into a novel.  (easiest – spreadsheet)

i.      Each scene gets one line.

ii.      Next column the POV Character, next tell what happens.

iii.      You can have many boxes for each explanation.

iv.      Set up like this you can see the storyline at a glance, and it’s easy to move the scenes around to reorder things.

I think this sound like a really good way of organizing my writings.  I think I will try this with my next book.

  1. Optional, but good when first starting to write.

i.      Start writing your narrative description of the story.

ii.      Taking each line of the spreadsheet expanding it to a multi paragraph description of the scene.

iii.      Add dialogue; sketch out conflicts of the scenes.

  1. Now… sit down and start writing the first draft of your novel!  Allow changes, but stick to it and you will be amazed at not only how quickly you will write, but also at how good your story is.

If you want more information on the snowflake system you can find it at this link:


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