Amy Palmer

Of writing, reading and creating


Pre NaNo – Plotting vs. Pantsing

Hello all. It’s finally October, which means there’s less than one month left until NaNoWriMo. From now until the end of the year, I’ll be running a 12 post blog series around preparing for NaNo in October, taking part in November, and cooling down again in December.

We’re starting off with planning, because if you plan to do a strong plan in time for November, you should probably be starting around about now if you haven’t started already.

I will be writing novellas for NaNo this year, at least two of them (I will have three ready, just in case I write more than expected). I’m personally planning using Libby Hawker’s ‘Take Off Your Pants!’ method, which treats each story as a set of character arcs. From the character arcs, I’ll then move on to loose scene outlines, and leave it there so I still have some wiggle room when it comes to writing.

Over on WriYe, and the WriYe Tumblr, I’ll be running a course focused on increasing the speed of your writing this month. It’s going to be based on Chris Fox’s 5000 words per hour. So if you want to be writing faster in November than you are now, come and check it out.

NaNoWriMo tends to split people into two clear groups – plotters and pantsers. But that’s really an oversimplification. There are both kinds, sure, but there are various types of both kinds. Plotters who plot everything in detail, and those who just have some loose notes. Pantsers who go into November with no idea at all, and those who go in with an idea or a few characters, but no solid planning.

Personally, I think there are positives and negatives to both. Planning requires more work before NaNo, and can feel restrictive if a story tries to take a different direction. But it also often allows for faster writing, as you have to stop and think about it less. I also personally find that it leads to a first draft that needs a lot less structural editing. Pantsing doesn’t require much work before you start writing, if any, and it can be very freeing to let the story go where it wants to. But again, I find that it leads to a first draft that needs a lot more structural work in redrafting.

Which type are you? Will you be planning for NaNo this year, or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

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