Writing a Novel – The Snowflake Method


Having finally decided to sit down and start my big novel idea – otherwise known as my precious baby (don’t lie, I know you feel the same about yours) – I quickly found myself completely unsure where to begin. All the creative ideas, sinister sub-plots, witty dialogue, and interesting characters that had swirled around my head for years suddenly had no place on paper before me. They all went in to hiding and refused to come forward to offer any assistance now I was confronted by a blank page.

Having only ever written short stories and poetry, I had no idea how to approach a larger, more complex project like a novel. So the question turned from ‘when will I write my novel?’ to ‘how do I write my novel?’ Thankfully we live in a time when the majority of human knowledge, even the irrelevant stuff like Fox News and step-by-step instructions on how to wax an owl, is just a few keyboard strokes away.

So I searched around the internet and stumbled over this article. It’s explains a method of writing a novel that is logical and structured, yet doesn’t suck any of the creativity out of the process. It’s called the Snowflake Method, and the principle is you start small and then gradually build up and extend until what you have becomes a fully developed story.

I found it incredibly helpful in planning my writing. If you’re thinking about starting a novel or are even in the midst of writing one already, I highly recommend the article – it’s well worth a read. It might just be the kick in the arse you need to start writing your magnum opus.

© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Photo by yellowcloud licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

5 thoughts on “Writing a Novel – The Snowflake Method”

  1. I’ve read it and it makes sense. You start a novel from a quick elevator pitch and expand the concept from there. You’ll likely find, though, detailed plotting may become more difficult than you first imagined, but in that case remain flexible and remember the core of your story.

  2. Definitely worth a read. I think every writer owes it to themselves to try as many methods as they can. I know in my own case, what came natural was absolutely not the best fit for me. I thought I would be more of a snowflake type or a “gardener” as Brandon Sanderson would put it, but I find my writing comes out best with some pre-built structure. Although, I’ll admit I do hate planning out characters ahead of time.

    Anyway. Thanks for the post! Good luck with your baby—I mean novel.

    1. I’m with you on planning characters. I tried creating character biographies but it felt very forced to list off their attributes and histories. I much prefer intertwining them with the story as I write, and letting it all evolve together in to something that feels natural. I suppose it all comes down to feel and preference – whatever works for you personally. Cheers for the comment.

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