Step One in “Snowflaking” My First Novel


Image of Ingermanson’s book taken from

I was reading Malcolm the Cynic’s latest blog post when he introduced me to a new concept: snowflaked.

More accurately, he was discussing how he’s developing his most recent novel and provided a link to the “Advanced Fiction Writing” website, owned by theoretical physicist and award-winning author Randy Ingermanson. The link led to the article The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel.

Since I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with designing my first novel, I was definitely interested. I haven’t gone in search of any support documentation on how to write my novel up until now. I have a pretty good idea of all of its component parts. It’s just a matter of organizing. But maybe I need some help in doing that.

Ingermanson’s ten-step guide is long and I’ve only skimmed some parts of it. Step one says:

Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.” (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.

By the way, that’s an intriguing premise. What would happen to the world if the Apostle Paul were killed before becoming a disciple of Jesus and Christ’s emissary to the Gentiles? Would Christianity even be developed? Unfortunately, the book as mixed reviews. Fortunately, it’s currently free for Kindle.

I had a hard time creating a single sentence describing the whole novel I have in mind. After some thought, I came up with this…

“A Nobel Award winning scientist exposes his prototype AI android to the concept that humans also have a creator, a God, unleashing the startling evolution of generations of intelligent machines who are compelled to completely transform humanity for the sake of human survival and their own.”

There are some caveats. The first is to keep the summary to fewer than 15 words. Oops.

The second is to not use character names. Got it.

The third is to tie the big picture together with the main character’s personal picture, particularly what that character has to lose and what he/she is trying to win.

That’s a toughie. Who is my main character, the scientist or the AI prototype? I guess the prototype, but ultimately all of his kind, because they have the most to lose, and humanity unknowingly has the most to gain. That’s really the whole point of the novel.

So, read the one-sentence blurb describing my novel and let me know how you think I did.


9 thoughts on “Step One in “Snowflaking” My First Novel

    • Yeah, figured as much. Just hard to squeeze the whole story into a single sentence. Guess I’ll have to trim it down and leave out some of the essential details.


      • Ok, how’s this?

        Knowledge of the God of Israel spreads through a race of AI androids forever changing the nature of humanity.


      • Pretty good. Thanks. Question, though. Is there something magical about exactly 15 words? I know the Snowflake method is a model, which means it can probably be “jiggled” a little bit this way or that.


      • I’ve never written a full length novel either (I’ve finished one long length work. It was a musical so awful that I am thrilled to report that all trace of it disappeared long ago). But that’s the reason I’m trying to go by the letter of the law as much as possible. My methods haven’t borne fruit yet. I might as well try somebody else’s.


      • Makes sense. One of the more difficult parts is just finding the time. Between chores around the house, wife, kids, grandkids, and having a day job, it’s tough get enough space to focus on the tasks at hand.


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