The art of planning or lack thereof

Now that I have a plot, it’s time to start planning it. Those who know me well know that I’m a pantser. I don’t make extensive plans before writing, nor do I create major character sketches, world maps, or anything fancy like other Wrimos may do. This year may be a little different. I really need to sit down and think about how these worlds are going to interact.

In one way, it’s going to be like my first 2009 NaNoWriMo novel: there will be on main narrator, and then the alternate narrators (in the 2009 case, the pumpkins; in 2010’s case, the alternate selves of the main character) strung the rest of the plot together. In one sense there was only one narrator; after all, it was the same character…yet it wasn’t.

But because there are so many versions of each character, motivation will be very important. History will be very important. These are things I’ve never put much thought to before now, preferring to pants my way through the novel. It has worked; I have eight NaNo victories to show for it. This is a more complicated plot that deserves the extra planning, and this is something that, despite all my years of writing novels, I am quite new to. When people ask me about planning advice, I’m pretty blank because I don’t usually plan. Some people talk about things like the snowflake method and the phase outline. I just say, “Okay, this is going to happen as my conflict”, where “this” is some vague overarching conflict. This may cause problems.

Funnily enough, people tend to come to me for plotting and planning help, despite my lack of expertise in the subject. It’s probably the same way people come to me for relationship advice despite my lack of experience in the area, except I’ve actually written books. It’s not like I’ve had any friends with benefits or anything resembling a long-term relationship that would make me qualified to give advice.

I guess qualifying for advice-giving is a relative thing. In that case, allow me to adjust my wizened fake NaNo beard. I would start practicing my fake sword swallowing, but that would take this act a little too far, don’t you think?

2 thoughts on “The art of planning or lack thereof

  1. Hey, found your blog via a forum thread! 🙂

    I’m also totally a “pantser” (I’ve never seen that term before but I love it!), but my plot requires me to do some planning and outlining this year. I’m interested to see whether that will make things easier during NaNo or if it’ll take some of the fun out of it, because one of my favourite things about going in blind is that I’m just telling myself a story throughout the whole month.

    • @twohectobooks I’m also interested in finding this out. I’ve done NaNo long enough to know my style, and this is completely different from anything I’ve ever written before. Will it suck out the fun or make it more fun? Guess that’s something for both of us to find out.

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