The Snowflake Method for Outlining a Novel

I’m gearing up to write a novel in November during NaNoWriMo.  But I’m not one of those “seat of the pants” types of writers who make up the story as I go along.  I’m a planner.  An outliner.  A story architect.

So when I heard about the Snowflake Method of outlining while reading Fiction Writing for Dummies, I thought I would try it out for this first novel.

I’m liking the method.  I like it a lot.  You start with a kernel, or the center of your snowflake, then you work your way outward.  You add more and more detail to your plot and expand your storyline, adding depth to your characters as you move outward on each branch of the flake.

What does that actually mean?  Start with a one sentence summary of your story.  Pare it down to less than 30 words – get the essense of the story in that one sentence.  Then add more detail by expanding that sentence into a whole paragrah.  Now go and create your main characters.   You don’t need to go too deep yet, just outline them.  (you’ll come back later to build them and refine them.)  Once you’ve done that, build more detail into the plot by turning that paragraph into a full page.

If you’re using Scrivner to write a novel as I am, try this great Scrivner template for the Snowflake method.  It includes sections for building out your story like a built-in checklist.


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