The snowflake method is an approach for developing a book idea that starts with a very simple premise and then adding more detail to it – analogous to building a snowflake fractal by adding more triangles pointing out of each line in the earlier design. This idea appeals to my sensibilities as a computer programmer – it’s what’s known as top-down algorithm design in the software field, starting with a statement of the goal and then breaking it down into steps and substeps until each element is trivial to implement.
So, here are the first two layers of my snowflake design:
Step 1: (One-sentence summary)
A dead man, sent back to Earth to do the Angel’s work, falls in love with a living girl and runs away with her.
Step 2: (One paragraph summary, 5 sentences)
Richard is sent to Buffalo by Angels to stop a chemical explosion from going off at the University. In the process, he meets Jessie, and infatuated with each other, they decide to run away once the job is done. The head angel, James the Elder, tracks them down and tells Jessie that Richard has more missions to do, and that he can only stay on Earth by taking somebody else’s body. James switches to another body, a coma victim, and works another mission, unaware that Jessie ‘met’ the true owner of his first body, and likes him too. In the end, Richard has to figure out if he must leave Jessie, fight for her, or let her make her own choice.
Not perfect yet, but that gives me an idea of where it’s going. Step 3 is short character sketches, and it’s probably the point at which I won’t be including the full results here in the blog, but I’ll do my best to keep you all informed of how it’s going.