graphic of a snowflake with the words

Step 2 of the Snowflake Method

Before I jump into Step 2, here are a couple of links in case you need to catch up:

What Randy recommends

These are the notes I took from Mr. Ingermanson’s article about the Snowflake Method:

Step 2: Expand the single sentence into a full paragraph.

  • Include the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.
  • Consider having “three disasters plus an ending”/using the Three-Act structure.
  • Try to stick to no more than five sentences: intro, three disasters, conclusion.
  • This isn’t the back-cover copy, which summarizes only the first quarter of the story.
  • Total time: 1 hour

What David did

Step 2 seemed far easier than Step 1. Maybe it’s because I find building up easier than distilling down.

And yet I still found a reason (or two) to procrastinate between finishing the first step and starting the second.

I fretted about how word building was going to work

An excerpt from my notes:

I’m a little bit concerned about world building, which isn’t really covered by the Snowflake Method. There are, in fact, two fantasy worlds to consider in this novel: the fake fantasy world of [the larpers’] design and the real fantasy world the party winds up in. I’m OK with making the former somewhat generic—riffing off of popular D&D tropes.

But what about [the other] world?

If the “real” fantasy world is too akin to tabletop gaming, it will give the adventurers a distinct advantage on their quest. If, in fact, it’s more realistic than a swords-and-sorcery romp, that could add some tension. I suppose I’ll have to decide how high I want to set the stakes.

In other words: is this a straight-up comedy, or will there be true peril?

I researched larping

I scoured the internet for information about larping and joined a couple of Facebook groups to educate myself about the hobby. I also made a list of all the various larping events throughout Wisconsin, which is the setting of my book.

Then I watched some documentaries and videos about larping to get a better feel for the various ways people play.

I finally did the thing

As predicted, Step 2 was easier than Step 1, though it did take me the full hour to complete it. But before I share what I came up with…


What follows contains potential spoilers for the not-yet-released (and not-yet-named) book about Sir Larpsalot and his friends. Caveat: because this is all falls under the category of planning, details are bound to change along the way, so this step may actually include false spoilers!

Last chance to remain untainted…

You’re sure?

Alrighty, but first here’s the single-sentence summary in case you forgot:

Five teen larpers must become the fantasy warriors they pretend to be when a confused wizard summons them to complete an impossible quest in another world.

Which then becomes this paragraph:

Five Wisconsin teens play a bittersweet LARP (live action role-playing) session, trying to wrap up a long campaign before the GM (game master) moves out of state. The next day, they learn that the GM is missing, go looking for him in the familiar woods, and get pulled through a portal into a stereotypical fantasy world. The princess there tells them they must retrieve a powerful relic from a mighty avian wizard to save the GM and the realm. They barely escape with the relic and their lives, only to discover the princess is an evil sorceress and the true captor of the GM. With the help of the avian wizard, they defeat the sorceress, rescue the GM, and return home.

So did I meet the criteria of Step 2?

  • Include the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.
    Full plot arc? Check!
  • Consider having “three disasters plus an ending”/using the Three-Act structure.
    Disaster 1 is losing their GM. Disaster 2 is facing the avian wizard in battle. Disaster 3 is being betrayed by the sorceress.
  • Try to stick to no more than five sentences: intro, three disasters, conclusion.

The next step

Step 3 of the Snowflake Method demands a one-page description for each of the main characters.

Be sure to check back in January so you can meet Sir Larpsalot, Elvish Presley, Brutus the Bullheaded, Master Prospero, and Tom Foolery!