General:, Resources

Software Review: Snowflake Pro

Some weeks ago I purchased a copy of Snowflake Pro, writing software based on the Snowflake Method of Writing a Novel technique. I use the technique, or parts of it, all the time, so I was eager to try the software and see how it compares.

The creator of the software has used the KISS method – keep it simple stupid – which I found to be perfect. However, in my opinion, I think anyone new to the technique would be looking for more thorough information at each step as not enough is included and I remember how confusing it was to begin with. To those people I suggest using the software and the creator’s website in conjunction with each other.

The software is simple to use. There are ten or so tabs (one for each step) at the top of the page, so it’s easy to move back and forth between steps as the ideas start to take shape. There are a couple of “tip” buttons, which can be used as reminders as to what you should be doing in each step. And…there’s an audio tip button too, I found this very helpful (and even inspiring in a way as it felt as if someone was interested enough in my writing to give me that little extra push).

You start out by filling in the basics, such as story title, author name, genre, approximate word count and target audience. Then you move into an area where you give more details about the author (you) such as providing your mailing address, contact phone numbers and email address, together with a short biography. Then you get stuck into planning your story/novel.

You create a list of characters and then you write a brief description on the setting. You alternate between characters and setting in each step, so that the overall story is progressing altogether. The list of characters is built on so that you have backgrounds, reasons, motivations, goals and conflicts. The brief description of the setting becomes a fully realised world and believable plot.

By the end of the process, if you’ve put in the hard yards and seriously put a lot of thought into it, you will have created well-rounded characters, a realistic world, a strong plot and you’ll have a two page synopsis ready to use in your submissions.

But there’s more…at the very end, there’s an extra special step where you can click on “print” and it will print out a complete proposal for you to use to submit to publishers…and it’s set out exactly how it should be too. Wonderful!

Of course, you don’t need the software in order to get the same results. You could set up documents and follow the steps on the website and you’ll end up with everything mentioned above, except the proposal. But even that can be achieved if you put in some time and research.

However, I like the software because it makes the process easier and tidier. I’ve used the manual method and having to open and close documents to find the information I’m looking for is tiresome. With the software it’s all filed right there in front of me and I use one screen to get to anything I’m looking for.

I recommend this software to writers who like to plan their stories before they write. If you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer, then you’ve just wasted your time reading this post, but then again it is nice to know what other people might be doing. 😉

No matter what type of writer you are, why are you still here? Shouldn’t you be writing?!

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18 thoughts on “Software Review: Snowflake Pro”

  1. I’m doing my first slow-dance with Writers Dreamkit. The goal is similar. The WDK hook for me: “WDK will do something no other writing program can do—it predicts parts of your story based on creative decisions you make! You’ll be inspired to incorporate those ideas into your developing story and make it even tighter—with no plot holes or character inconsistencies!”

    Ignoring the propagandist’s enchantment with exclamation points, I was/am intrigued by that hole-plugging claim.

    So far, I’ve finished only first pass character development. Frankly, the Snowflake Method got more out of me.

    To be continued…

  2. I find myself wondering if Strugglingwriter has made a change yet, as it’s some months since he left his post. 🙂

    Crewell, I haven’t heard of Writers Dreamkit, but the plugging concept sounds interesting. I’d be interested to know how you go with that. I’m a firm believer of the Snowflake method. I’ve used it manually for years and now use the software and love it.

  3. Hi Karen!

    I’ve been reading about the Snowflake software and thinking about buying it. Your blog post came up on Google Chrome. Thanks for the review. I’m trying to outline a novel and wondered if Snowflake would be helpful. I think I’m too far along and it would be back tracking for me but it might be helpful on the next one!

    Karen

  4. If the method you’re using is working, keep going with it. I turned to Snowflake when I was experiencing problems with one of my manuscripts and discovered gapping holes. Snowflake helped me fill the holes and give my characters more depth because I understood their storylines a lot better.

    Thanks for stopping by, Karen, and good luck with your planning.

  5. Hi Karen:
    I stumbled across your blog looking for good or bad reviews on Randy’s Snowflake Software Program.
    And yes I should be writing, but you’re blog is much too interesting to veer away from.
    Anyway, I’m writing a two POV teen novel and I’m almost at the finish line, but as a new writer I wanted to ensure that what I’ve written is going to work.
    I basically have followed the snowflake outline manually, but like you there are too many files to open and by the time I’m where I should be, the timer goes off (in my head that is) and then it’s time to deal with real life responsibilities.
    Do you think this software would be helpful?
    Thanks
    Tracy

  6. Most definitely, Tracy. I love the software because all my planning is in one place. All I have to do is click between tabs. Now, this can also be achieved without the software — if you open all your pages and have them titled well and you’re organised, but the software streamlines it even more, in my opinion.

    Best of luck with your novel.

  7. A good review Karen, thank you so much for taking the time (from OTHER writing) to write this. Much appreciated. I will definitely be perusing more of your blog…

  8. Hi, I’d like to make a serious attempt at novel writing. A year ago I read Randy’s novel writing book and am familiar with his Snowflake method. So far I’ve written a dozen or so small draft tomes that I hope are going to become segments of my novel.

    I’m currently using “Ubuntu Linux and Tomboy Notes” to collect and organize my seat-of-pants writing. But that is just a stop-gap measure; now my writing needs an outline before I can conjure up a first draft. I figure I’m going to have to move to serious writing application like OpenOffice, Abiword or LibreOffice (or Snowflake Pro) The numerous files to keep up with in a word-processor and spreadsheet scenario seem onerous.

    To have a chance at completing a first draft I will have to jump back and forth between outlining and writing. The Snowflake Method looks like my best chance at success.

    just a few questions:
    –can you export in the middle of the steps to a common file format to use in a standard word-processor, if it doesn’t work out? I understand your not locked in with the software.
    –Is there a forum for the software? Or does Randy give blog postings on potential updates to his software?
    –Does it have a spell check feature?
    I need someone to talk me into getting Snowflake. Thanks for your blog! — Mark

    1. Hi Mark

      Snowflake Pro is used to plan novels (or short stories). It’s not a program where you can write the manuscript within it. For that you’d be better off using OpenLibre (or any other processing software).

      With Snowflake Pro you create the characters and the plot by following the steps provided. At the end you can produce a full proposal, which can be printed to rtf format and saved. The planning can be as little or as complex as you want it to be, and it can be printed to rtf at any time, if you want to transfer the information to your processing software.

      I use Windows now but at the time I purchased the software I loaded it on to a Linux operating system. It worked fine.

      I don’t know if there’s a forum as I’ve never gone looking for it. There is a support button within the software, if you need it though.

      What I love about the software is that I have all my planning in one file. So when I write I have two programs open (Snowflake and Word). I switch between the two and writing is easier as a result. It works for me.

      Good luck with your writing.

  9. Karen, thanks for the great information. Very helpful! From what I’ve read, it sounds like you, Randy and I develop our writing the same way. I have written 15 pages of outline for my first fiction novel. I am the type who likes to have everything planned, researched, organized, etc. before actually writing. Even though I strive to have an organized outline….what this stories really needs at this point is a software that can organize timelines (for time travel and flashbacks), storyboard option relating to plot themes, and bridging main/supporting characters. Does Snowflake Pro help with these items mentioned? Thanks much! -Ian

    1. I have to say no to your question. It doesn’t go to that length. Once the story is planned and you have a synopsis written and character profiles, you move on to your word processor and write the manuscript. There’s no way of organising chapters, scenes, timelines.

      I suggest you take a look at Simon Haynes’ yWriter5. I’m not sure if it does all what you’re after, but I think it will help you to some degree. It’s a free download and the author of the software is a published author himself so he knows what is wanted by writers. Give it a try and see if it helps.

      1. I have to agree about yWriter, I just downloaded it and started using it and it seems to have much of what is needed to organize a novel. Because it’s free, it’s a no harm to try out.

  10. Good review. I’m interested in the Snowflake Method, but $100 seems a bit pricey for the software. However, I have Scrivener which is priced at a very reasonable $45, and is so flexible that it’s possible to set up a Snowflake template with everything you need. Sure enough, after a quick search on the internet, there’s people out there who have already created Snowflake templates for Scrivener.

    Apologies if the above sounds like an advert. It wasn’t meant to. I just think people could save themselves some money, and also get a very adaptable piece of writing software like Scrivener into the bargain.

    1. No apology needed. I think it’s important to be aware of everything that is available before making a final purchase of any products. I like Snowflake. You like Scrivener. We are both happy. 🙂 And hopefully, anyone wanting to know more about writing software will check out both alternatives and they will be happy too.

      I believe it’s all about whatever works for you (the author).

      Thanks for letting me know about Scrivener too.

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