Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

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How do you plan and plot your stories? Are you the type who plots out everything in advance or the kind who flies by the seat of their pants with an idea and a dream and figures it all out as you go?

There always seems to be a divide between writers who plan (Plotters) and writers who don’t (Pantsers).

If you’re a Plotter, a writer who likes to plot everything out, there are tons of places to find advice for how to plot your novel. There are three act methods, snowflake methods, flow charts, sticky notes, and so much more. There are tons of books out there about how to plan out and write a novel. I’m sure many of them are even helpful.

But what if you are a Pantser, one of those writers who has a vague idea, some characters and a setting and just goes for it? I haven’t found a lot of advice out there for Pantsers. Probably because it’s so hard to give advice for a process that doesn’t have set rules or even set steps. What can you tell a Pantser really? They tend not to do outlines or plotting in advance, so what can they do to prepare for writing their story?

I can’t speak for every Pantser out there, but for me, there is prep work, it’s just not plotting.

Before I begin to write I learn my characters. I name them, give them a physical description, a backstory, and a personality to go with it. I do as much work on my bad guys as my good guys and try to have as much knowledge of my secondary characters as my primary characters. Knowing everyone well lets you work with them easier when you’re in the middle of your story.

I also try to know my setting. Whether it’s a new world I created just for this story, or one I’ve worked in before, I make sure I know all the mechanics. Geography, weather patterns, magic rules, mythical creatures, or whatever else I may need all gets mapped out in advance. If it resembles the real world, then what is different, what is the same? Knowing all the rules of your setting and your world can be a huge help when you get down to playing in it.

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, so I’m busy figuring out the setting information I need and mapping out the details for my last few characters. There’s only one week left to plan. Don’t let that time go to waste.

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