The first time I “won” NaNoWriMo was in 2013. I read No Plot? No Problem, created characters, and did my best to create a semi-coherent sci-fi book. It was called “Equilibrium” and it was a meandering mess. It was not a total failure though, I learned my first baby steps to writing a full-length novel that year. I also learned I was a planner, not a “pantser.”
What is a Pantser?
A pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants. They don’t need an outline, they just write what comes next. They start their journey at the beginning and they sail on until they meet their destination.
Even though I’m a planner, I do have pantser moments, where the characters go left instead of right, and I have to figure it out as I go.
What is a Plotter?
A plotter is someone who plans their story out in advance. They might write it chronologically, or they might skip around, because they have an outline. I love a good outline. I like to know where my story is headed and what I need to write next to get it there. There are lots of ways to outline a book, I tend to use Scrivener to do mine, and go scene by scene. I try to hit major plot points, like the inciting incident, pinch points, midpoint and finally the climax, as I plot.
This year I’m going to try to plot out my story by “beats.” It’s very similar to the way I’ve outlined in the past, and you can find lots of “beat sheets” online that give you an idea of when to hit what points in your story.
So, are you a pantser or a plotter? Have you tried both, or only one?