My Novel’s “Snowflake” Is Getting Out of Hand


Mike Ferrell as Jerry Robinson on the set of Gene Roddenberry’s “The Questor Tapes” (1974)

Yesterday, I announced I was beginning step three in Randy Ingermanson’s ten-step process of the Snowflake Method for Designing A Novel. I got as far as writing the outline for my two main characters, Professor Abramson and George.

And then I stopped.

This step forced me to examine who I actually consider main characters vs. supporting characters. As far as the parts of the novel already created in some draft form, I’ve just got three main characters, the two I’ve already mentioned, plus the CEO of the company Abramson works for (I’m recreating names of people and organizations, so they won’t sound familiar to you anymore).

Step 4 of the process is to take each sentence in the summary paragraph (step two) and expand it into a full paragraph.

Step 5 is more detailed character development.

Step 6 is more expansion on the novel’s synopsis.

Step 7 is more character development.


I don’t see these steps as linear. I have a lot of info on my characters “trapped” in various chapters that has yet to be documented.

I decided to take my basic chapter one, copy and paste it into a Word doc, and then begin to change around concepts and names. No more “positronic” anything. No more “three laws” (although I’m having fun taking concepts in modern AI and developing principles upon which to base an operating system).

I’m also taking the fundamental concept of George’s brain and “neural net” and doing something I hope will be a new twist on why my version of AI is unlike anything people are thinking about right now.

Unfortunately, my human brain turned to glue on page 8 (of 22) so I had to stop. I have to totally rework the debate between Quinto and the rest of the team on why they’re so afraid of how “human” George is and what it means.

And without a concrete “three laws,” I have to re-examine what George’s motivations are at any given moment.

Right now, it makes more sense for me to re-write the first chapter/short story in terms of the “snowflaking” I’ve done so far, and then as that morphs, go back to the hidden snowflake pages on my blog and continue making adaptations. The writing/snowflaking functions more like a feedback loop than following a linear setl of steps.

In case you want to review my original work The Robot Who Loved God, which will have a different title by the time it becomes “Chapter One,” I’ve provided a link.

Don’t look for me to post the revised Chapter One online anytime soon. If this is going to be an original novel, I want there to be a few surprises.

Once I get the basic revision done, I’ll revise it again for structure and internal consistency. With each pass, it should take on more of a life of its own and become the true foundation for the rest of the novel.

I now know why Abramson never talks about his children. I know how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren he has, their names, and ages. I know what his demons are and how he finally conquers them by the end of the novel, while discovering an entirely new problem, one introduced by Noah’s greatest creation…George.

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