Snowflake image with the words Snowflake Method: Step 7

Step 7 of the Snowflake Method


In case you missed it:


Before I became a writer, I was a chronic character creator.

For reasons beyond my understanding, my brain likes inventing personas—everything from silly facades to keep small children entertained to personalities projected onto passersby. Everyone has a story, after all.

Sometimes all it takes is seeing or hearing a name, and my mind begins to wander.

The stories about these made-up people can range from a single sentiment to several minutes of daydreaming. Sometimes these faint figures come back, appearing in future reveries or becoming a stronger presence in their own story snippets.

If one returns often enough, the formally flat figure starts to take shape and gain dimension. Maybe the could-be character can fit into a plot I’ve been pondering for a while. Or perhaps he/she/they are worthy enough to star in their own feature.

Something along those lines happened for my current work in progress, which I’ve been detailing in this ongoing Snowflake Method series. The name “Sir Larpsalot” randomly popped into my head one day.

Who is he? Who are his allies? Who are his enemies? What if he…?

Step 7 of the Snowflake Method centers on digging even deeper into the story’s main characters. Since I’ve been thinking about this questionable knight since Day 1, I was more than ready to roll up my sleeves give him—and his company—some depth.

What Randy recommends

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

Step 7: Expand character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about them.

  • Birthdate
  • Description
  • History
  • Motivation
  • Goal
  • How the character changes by the end of the novel
  • Total time: one week

What David did

As noted above and in other blog posts (How to make a person), creating characters is one of my favorite parts of writing fiction. For most of my books, I go through an exhaustive list of questions so that I get to know my protagonists and antagonists inside and out.

The six suggested attributes in the bulleted list seemed woefully incomplete to me, so I scanned through the categories I typically cover while drafting full-blown character profiles and added a few of them to my customized character chart.

I’ll share one of them—the titular character’s—below, but before I do that, I want to touch on the timeframe. While most steps of the Snowflake Method have taken me less time than prescribed, this one took me not one week, but three. However, after looking through my notes, I realize that I completed this exercise in fits and starts in between several writing-related events and publishing a novel (If Dreams Can Die).

The total time spent on Step 7 came to 8.25 hours, about one hour per chart.

SPOILERS AHEAD (though some details have already changed)

Lorenzo / Sir Larpsalot

  • Full name: Lorenzo Lopez
  • Nick name: Lopez
  • Gender: male
  • Race/ethnicity: Hispanic (Mexican descent)
  • Religion: Catholic, nonpracticing
  • Physical description:
    • Hair: brown, shaggy
    • Eyes: brown
    • Height: average (5’4″)
    • Weight: average build (105 lbs.)
    • Other characteristics of note: faint hint of a mustache
  • Clothing/style:
    • In RL: T-shirts, athletic shorts
    • While larping: football pads, football helmet, backpack with Mountain Dew bottles, D&D manuals, trashcan lid, wooden sword, jackknife, homemade cape
  • Larping persona: Sir Larpsalot
    • Race: human
    • Class: paragon (paladin)
    • Physical traits: tall, muscular, handsome, bearded
    • Weapon(s): a holy longsword (Excaliburnt) and his (fictional) father’s shield
    • Gear/item(s) of note: platinum full-plate, elixirs of stamina
  • Birthday: May 28, 2006 (Gemini)
  • Age: 14
  • Family: Luis (father), Andrea (mother), Leonardo “Leo” (older brother, 17)
  • History: Lorenzo is a third-generation Mexican American; he speaks a little Spanish, though not as much as his parents would like. He has lived in Fond du Lac his entire life and has been best friends with Asher since third grade.
  • Habits/quirks: speaks in clichés when larping
  • Hobbies: Larping, reading comic books/fantasy novels, talking about the same, video games, Chess Club
  • Favorite books, movies, music, etc.: Dragonlance novels (his dad’s), Marvel movies, dubstep
  • Flaws: can be bossy in and out of character, unhappy when others don’t get along, high school anxiety
  • Secret(s): devastated that his best friend is moving away and worries about Good Company’s fate
  • Motivation: keep the gang together and avoid change for as long as possible
  • Goal: rescue Asher and maybe get the girl (like a “true hero”)
  • How he changes by the end of the novel: learns mercy doesn’t make him weak; no need to fear the future

The next step

Step 8 of the Snowflake Method involves mapping out every scene using a spreadsheet. Well, I’m a diehard plotter, and I use Excel for organizing everything. What could possibly go wrong?

You’ll see…