snowflake image with the words

Step 4 of the Snowflake Method

Welcome back to my mad experiment, where I attempt to create a novel using a ten-step approach to plotting, character development, and more.

In case you missed the earlier installments:

In Step 4, the single paragraph from Step 2 expands into a full page, with each sentence of the former becoming its own paragraph.

As the outline for the Sir Larpsalot book becomes more detailed, there is more potential for spoilers—although some of the decisions I made below have already been tweaked or outright reversed. Nevertheless, let it be known:


What Randy recommends

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

Step 4: Expand each sentence of the summary paragraph into a full paragraph.

  • All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster.
  • The final paragraph should tell how the book ends.
  • Ends up being a one-page skeleton of the novel.
  • Total time: “several” hours

What David did

This was a pretty straightforward and natural step, and I immediately took to the task, eager to dig deeper into the guts of the story.

To my surprise, it took just over an hour to evolve this:

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.

…into this:

Lorenzo, Asher, Makayla, Jon, and Trent play what is meant to be the final episode of their long-running LARP campaign. As Sir Larpsalot, Elvish Presley, Brutus the Bullheaded, Master Prospero, and Tom Foolery (respectively), they battle the “big bad.” Sir Larpsalot is tricked, and the party loses the upper hand. Shortly thereafter, Trent twists his ankle, and they are forced to end their session. An argument about the future of the group—given Asher’s impending move and the start of high school around the corner—breaks out. Everyone goes their separate ways.

The next day, Lorenzo learns that Asher is missing. He and the other kids go to his house and learn from his mother that he had gone out to the woods to prepare for one last adventure but never returned. The gang continues to bicker (Mak thinks Lorenzo’s LARP gear is in bad taste), but fear gnaws at them all, except for Jon, who begins to suspect Asher staged the whole thing. When they can’t find Asher in the usual places, they wander to the dilapidated home of Old Man Magee. They don’t learn much from the crazy, short man, other than the fact that the cops tried to question him. On their way back to the Brzezinski property, a portal opens in a clearing, and the four are pulled inside.

When they wake up, they don’t immediately realize they’re in a different world, though they quickly get lost. As dusk descends, they decide to make camp, which is a lot harder in real life. Even as they argue about “first watch,” a small company of imps attacks. By sheer luck and the interference of external forces, they survive. Lorenzo catches a glimpse of a feathery figure, but it’s unclear whether he was a friend or foe. The more obvious savior is a beautiful woman who possesses “a mere modicum” of magic. She brings them to her home—a humble cottage—and explains the dire state of her world. Her magic has been sealed by an evil avian wizard, but if they can reclaim her relic from Wizard Hawk, she can help them find their missing friend and return them to their world.

The four teens reluctantly accept the sorceress’s quest. Lorenzo wants to prove himself a hero, Mak wants to save Asher, Jon wants to learn more about what’s happening, and Trent just wants to get back home. En route to where Wizard Hawk is rumored to live, they meet some colorful characters that speak in hushed whispers of the avian wizard: no one knows whether he is a cursed wizard or an enchanted bird. Eventually, they flounder their way to Wizard Hawk’s lair, almost splitting the party on the way. Despite a truce within their ranks, their plan for fighting Wizard Hawk quickly falls apart. The battle goes poorly from the start.

Working as a team, the four teens manage to turn the tides. Lorenzo has a chance to kill (or at least seriously wound) Wizard Hawk but stays his hand. The four adventures take the relic and run for their lives back to the cottage. They lie about Wizard Hawk’s death. During their celebration feast with the sorceress, they discover that she has had Asher in her possession the entire time and that she was the one who summoned them in the first place because she detected their magic across the planes. Instead of killing them, she throws Lorenzo and the others in the same cell as Asher; she suspects they’ll have their uses—especially after she reclaims her world and is ready to conquer the next.

Although all hope seems lost, Lorenzo rallies the party. He assures Asher that none of them blame him for their current predicament and proclaims that if they work together, they can do anything. They come up with a ruse, and Trent convinces the sorceress that he wants to serve her and abandon his pathetic compatriots. Once he’s out, he’s able to free the others. The final battle seems impossible, but with the help of Wizard Hawk, who swoops in to save the day, they defeat the sorceress. Afterward, Wizard Hawk reverts to human form—a human female form. She kisses Sir Larpsalot on the forehead but declines his invitation to return to Earth. She also predicts it will take a long time to figure out how to send them back. But then a familiar portal appears, and the five teens make their escape.

Back in the real world, they find Leon Magee in the clearing. He alludes to the fact that he’s visited other worlds and that maybe his presence is what caught the sorceress’s attention. As the teens make their way to Asher’s house, they swear to keep in touch no matter what the future brings. Mak surprises everyone by kissing Asher.

The next step

There’s something invigorating about discovering what events might happen between Point A and Point Z. Even though this one-page summary still is very rough and broad, my brain can’t help but begin to fill in even more holes.

Which will happen to some degree next month, when I move onto Step 5 of the Snowflake Method: telling the entire story from each main character’s point of view.

Until next month…