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.
- Series Summary. Snowflake-00 Write a one-sentence summary of your entire novel series
- Series Synopsis Snowflake-0. Expand that sentence into a series synopsis paragraph, with each sentence leading to a Story Logline.
- Snowflake-1. (Story Summary) Shoot for 3-4 sentences per series act. The result is 12-16 novels.
- Snowflake-2. (Story Synopsis)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- Character Completion. This is full character development. I guess I rarely complete this step on paper.
- Scene List Take the sentences in #6 and organize it (cards, spreadsheet, Scrivener, whatever)
- Scene Breakdown. (Optional) Expand each scene into a paragraph.
- First Draft. Um, you write right now.