Goodreads Reading Challenge 2023

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Guided questions to Planning Your Narrative Using the Snowflake Method

The Snowflake Method is a popular approach to planning and outlining narratives, especially novels. It was developed by Randy Ingermanson, a published author and writing instructor. The method is designed to help writers gradually expand their story from a simple concept into a comprehensive and well-structured narrative. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use the Snowflake Method for planning your narrative:


Step 1: Start with a One-Sentence Summary

Begin by summarizing your story in a single sentence. This sentence should convey the central idea of your narrative, including the main character, their goal, and the conflict they face.

  • Who is the main character?
  • What is their primary goal or desire?
  • What is the central conflict or obstacle they face?
  • What is the central theme or message of the story?


Step 2: Expand to a One-Paragraph Summary

Take the one-sentence summary and expand it into a paragraph. Include more details about the characters, motivations, the setting, and the major plot points. This paragraph should provide a clearer overview of the story's direction.

  • Who are the main characters in your story?
  • What is the setting of your story? Is it a specific time, place, or world?
  • What are the initial circumstances of the characters?
  • What is the triggering event that sets the story in motion?
  • How does the conflict escalate as the story progresses?
  • What are the major turning points that shape the narrative?


Step 3: Develop Character Summaries

Create short summaries for each of your main characters. Please include information about their backgrounds, personalities, goals, and conflicts. Understanding your characters' motivations will help you develop a more compelling story.

  • Who are the main characters? Provide names and brief descriptions.
  • What are their personal backgrounds and histories?
  • What are their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses?
  • What are their primary motivations and desires?
  • How do their goals and desires conflict with each other?


Step 4: Create a Spreadsheet

Set up a spreadsheet to track the significant events of your story. Use columns for each scene or chapter and rows for different story elements like characters, settings, and plot points. This will show how various elements interact and progress throughout the narrative.

  • What are the key scenes or chapters that you envision in your story?
  • Which characters are involved in each scene?
  • What significant plot developments occur in each scene?
  • How do the scenes build upon each other to create a coherent narrative?


Step 5: Expand to a One-Page Summary

Write a one-page summary of your story, expanding upon the information in your paragraph summary. Include details about subplots, secondary characters, and the overall narrative arc.

  • What subplots or secondary character arcs will complement the main storyline?
  • How do these subplots intersect with the central plot?
  • How does the setting influence the characters and their actions?
  • What emotions or themes do you want to explore in the story?
  • What are the stakes for the characters if they succeed or fail in their goals?


Step 6: Develop Character Profiles

Dive deeper into your main characters by creating more detailed profiles. Include their backgrounds, beliefs, fears, desires, and character arcs. Understanding your characters on a deeper level will make them more relatable and dynamic.

  • What are the deeper motivations driving each character?
  • What internal conflicts do they struggle with?
  • How do their backgrounds and experiences shape their perspectives?
  • How do their arcs evolve throughout the story?
  • How do their interactions with other characters reveal their personalities and growth?


Step 7: Write a Four-Page Summary

Expand your summary to four pages, focusing on each central character's storyline, their development, and how their arcs intersect. Include more specifics about the turning points, conflicts, and resolutions.

  • How do the characters' individual journeys intertwine and affect each other?
  • How does the central conflict evolve as the story progresses?
  • What specific challenges or obstacles do the characters face at different points?
  • How do the characters respond to setbacks and failures?
  • How do the characters' relationships change throughout the narrative?


Step 8: Create Scene Outlines

Break down your story into individual scenes or chapters. Write a one-sentence description for each scene, including the purpose of the scene, the characters involved, and the outcome. This will help you organize the flow of your narrative.

  • What is the purpose of each scene?
  • What emotions or conflicts are present in each scene?
  • How do the scenes advance the main plot and character arcs?
  • How do they contribute to the overall pacing and structure of the narrative?


Step 9: Expand Each Sentence

Write a paragraph expanding on the details for each sentence in your scene outline. Include dialogue, descriptions, and emotions. This will help you see how each scene contributes to the overall story.

  • How can you visually describe the settings to immerse the readers?
  • What internal thoughts and emotions can you show through the characters' actions and dialogues?
  • How do the conflicts in each scene drive the characters toward their goals?
  • What changes occur due to each scene that propels the story forward?


Step 10: Start Writing

With your detailed outline, you can start writing your narrative. Having a solid plan will make the writing process smoother and more focused.

  • How can you stay true to the essence of each scene while allowing room for creative exploration?
  • How can you maintain consistency in character voices and motivations throughout writing?
  • How can you use your detailed plan to keep your narrative focused and cohesive?



Remember that the Snowflake Method is a flexible approach, and you can adjust it to suit your preferences and the needs of your story. It's a tool to help you gradually build your narrative from a simple concept into a fully realized and engaging story.

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