So I’ve decided that I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year! I’m scheduling this post ahead of time (it’s the 26th of October today), so I realise this may be old news by now haha but oh well! This seems like the perfect time to carry on with My Writing Life mini series. Last blog post, I talked about where I got inspiration to write from, now I’d like to talk about the next stage in my process: Plotting!
Cute notebooks definitely help with plotting!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Personally, I’m a blend of both. Before I write, I always make a bullet point list of the things that need to happen in my book. This is the first step in my plotting process. Next, I decide roughly how many chapters I need in my book. I tend to write roughly 3,000 words per chapter, so I use that to calculate how long my first draft should be. My first book was an epic fantasy so was on the longer side at 95,000 words, which I divided into 37 chapters. My new book is smaller, it takes place mainly in one city, which is far less world building than an entire world of countries and cities! I’m aiming for 27 chapters for that one.
Next, I have a blank piece of paper or post it note for each chapter, and decide when I want the main events to fit in. Once I have an idea of how that will happen structurally, I can start filling in my sub plots and other things I want to happen around those.
I end up with a few points to cover in each chapter, some huge, some minor. Now, here is where the pantsing comes in! Two lines of what will happen in that chapter does not cover EVERYTHING you will write about in 3,000 words or so. Not even close! You have a vague idea of where you want the chapter to go, and you know your direction, but everything else is free for you to imagine and happily pants your way through as you write.
I personally enjoy this approach the most because I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds! I have a logically organised plot which gives my novel purpose and direction, but I am still free to write very creatively and with little constraints when working on each chapter. New ideas come to me all the time and it’s nice to be able to include them when they randomly pop into my head while I’m writing!
So that’s the approach I’ll be using to write my second novel during NaNoWriMo. Obviously, this may not work for you guys, approaches are all very different and personal!
How do you guys plots? What works for you? And are you plotters or pantsers?