How to Brainstorm your next Book in 3 Easy Steps

Hi Guys!

I'm super excited today because I'm kicking off this blog with the three step method I've used to write all my books so far (for those of you who are wondering, it's currently four-and counting!). I like to be spontaneous in my writing, so I don't plan out to much ahead of time. However I've also found that when I don't know where my story is headed, I can get frustrated and experience extreme writers block- NOT a fun thing when you're trying to find out how your story ends.

If that sounds like you, then I highly recommend the Snowflake Method. Randy Ingermanson talks about it a lot here. Today, though, I'm going to go over a simplified version that I always use when planning my next book.


The Snowflake Method: Explained

The snowflake method compares brainstorming guessed it-a snowflake. Instead of planning from the beginning to end it recommends working from the top, basic ideas, to the deep, detailed mechanisms of your story.

The three steps are straightforward:

  1. Write a one-sentence overview of your entire book.
  2. Using that sentence, create five sentences that cover your whole story from beginning to end.
  3. Everything that you write between sentence one and two will be the first fourth of your book, two and Three are the second quarter, and so on.

This method works because it is EASY. The planning process is simple to follow, and my favorite part is that it still allows you to be spontaneous as your story develops. As you write, your story will continue to grow and develop. This just gives you a road map to guide you towards the ending.


1. Write a one-sentence overview of your entire book.

Simple... or maybe not. Writing your first sentence can be deceivingly difficult, so I made this basic formula that I follow:

The Character Discovers A and Decides to do B. 

For those of you who have read my first book, Magic Made, my first sentence read: A lonely orphan discovers he has magic and decides to save his world. This is...a very over simplified description of quite a few MG/YA books. It did, however, give me a good starting point.


2. Using that sentence, create five sentences that cover your whole story from beginning to end.

Five sentences should be easy, right? If you're an over-thinker like me, don't feel bad. Again, you aren't expected to know the entire story upfront. To help with this part, I try to follow the hero's journey (which I'll talk more about later). Basically,

  • The hero is living an everyday life.
  • Something is discovered (A) that forces the hero to change.
  • The hero begins to work towards the climax.
  • Finally, the hero decides to do something (B)
  • The hero wins and lives happily ever after.

Once again, don't feel bad if you change this- you should change your ideas as your book progresses and you get to understand your characters better.


3. Create Quarters

This is the easy part! Before you begin writing, take your sentences and use them as guides for your story. Sentences 1-2 are quarter 1, 2-3 become quarter 2, 3-4 become quarter 3, and 4-5 become quarter 4. Each quarter is roughly around the same length, so if you're math-minded, that's around 16000 words for a YA novel.

That's a tangible goal that you can work towards, while still developing and creating a story. Plus, each time you finish a quarter, you feel a little more accomplished and successful, because you know you are getting closer to your goal.


Now Start Writing!

Take the time right now to create your own snowflake plan. Even if you've already started writing, this process can help you outline and come up with a plan for the rest of your story. It's quick easy, and so, so helpful.

Best of luck, and feel free to comment!


Keep on Writing,

Ashley Hayes

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