Book Review: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Title: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Author: Randy Ingermanson

Format: Kindle ebook

Published: 2014

In case you haven’t heard, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you choose to accept the NaNo mission, you try to write 50,000 words of a novel in–you guessed it–November. Some writers just sit down and write (“pantsing” – for writing by the seat of your pants), while others make detailed outlines that cover every plot detail. Then there are the rest of us, who, like Goldilocks, want a solution that’s neither too hot nor too cold. And speaking of Goldilocks…

She is the main character in the business parable that makes up the bulk of Ingermanson’s ebook, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. Goldilocks goes to a fiction writing conference to learn how to make her dream of writing a novel come true. She tries Papa Bear’s outlining seminar, but outlining is too structured for her. She tries Mama Bear’s workshop on writing “organically,” i.e. pantsing, but that doesn’t work for her either, so she ends up in Baby Bear’s workshop on the Snowflake Method. What follows is about 40,000 words of Goldilocks’ adventures with various fairy tale characters as she learns how to plan her novel using the Snowflake Method.

As a beginning fiction writer, I’ve found the Snowflake Method exceptionally helpful for thinking through my first novel, and Ingermanson’s book presents it in a way that’s both fun and informative. We learn how to go from a one-sentence summary to a complete list of scenes using a method that provides just the right amount of structure. We also get to see the Big Bad Wolf as a literary agent (yes, really) and Robin Hood as a loveable sleazeball. There’s even a murder, because, you know, fiction needs to have conflict.

The book ends with a summary of the Snowflake Method and the snowflake for the book itself, so readers can see exactly how the method works with a real book. If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel–or if you just want to learn more about fiction writing and how novels are structured–join Goldilocks, Baby Bear, and the Big Bad Wolf for some edifying fun. 5 stars!

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