Pantser or Plotter and How That Fits into NaNoWriMo

To outline or not to outline, that is the question. But where to start? Do I wing it or scribble down an outline for this blog post? And how can I work in info about my own writing process and NaNoWriMo at the same time? Talk about multitasking! Here goes, I’m going to wing it with no outline. Sort of like going commando.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Pantsers and Plotters and the question, which are you? I personally don’t think any writer is 100% either. For myself, I probably lean towards the plotter side, but when I first started writing I thought I was a pantser. That was because I don’t write down an outline. For example, when I wrote Metamorphic Heart with Alexis Woods, I read the prompt request, and conjured up Kase almost immediately in my head. Later I added in Alexis’ poem, and more scenes appeared which I wanted in the story.

I’ve read that some people use cards to shuffle around scenes and some writers use blackboards. One thing I learned while working with Alexis, was that I needed to write down the sequence of events so that the scenes she wrote would let her know what outline I had in mind. I would write the overall general scene with step by step bullet points as to their order and if I wanted certain dialogue, I would also add that to the outline and Alexis would put her spin on it, then we’d discuss it. Things like what we needed more of or what we could take out. Other than when I was in school and outlining was mandatory, that’s the first time in years that I wrote down a plot. I prefer shuffling and moving the scenes around in my head.

One part of a story that I need first or at least pretty quickly before I start writing is the ending and some semblance of a beginning. It’s like bookends on a shelf. No ending, and there’s no stability to the story. No goal to aim for, just a never ending path. I may not have the exact words for the end, but I will have a pretty good idea how it will finish, where the MCs will be, the actions they will be taking, and often the general gist of the dialogue. Which is ass backwards for pantsers since they go with the flow, and enjoy not knowing where the story ends up. That should’ve given me a clue that I wasn’t a pantser.

What does all this plot talk have to do with NaNoWriMo you many be wondering. I wrote a flash fic that I’d like to expand upon. I don’t have a plot, just some vague ideas, but believe it or not, I already have over 1k of the ending written, including dialogue. At the time I wrote the ending, I didn’t have any idea of the characters’ personalities, but it emerged as I typed. So I suppose you could call that pantsering. I had a general idea about the scene, but then the characters took over and wrote it for me. Of course, this ending may not be the actual ending, it might be followed by a short epilogue, which I’m feeling is the right way to go. Now that I have the ending, the story is likely to play out.

While waiting for NaNo to start, I’m checking out some blogs looking for posts on outlining. I’m going to see if outlining can help me, or whether it stifles me. If anyone of you readers knows of some good blog posts that discuss outlining and their techniques, without me having to purchase someone’s book, then please, provide a link in the comment section below.

In the meantime, how about sharing if you’re participating in NaNo and if you’ve got a specific plan for your story or are you going to wing it? Maybe you’re just going to write blog posts everyday, which is also a great way to keep writing. Maybe you’ll write short stories instead of one novel, which is still great. Let me know what you have planned for NaNo.

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