Preparing for NaNoWriMo As a Pantser

I have searched the web for programs, YouTube videos, blog posts, and webinars to help me get ready for NaNoWriMo. The one thing I’ve noticed is they are not geared to pantsers. I know, I know, if I’m a pantser how can I “get ready” for NaNo? Well, when I was preparing for my very first NaNoWriMo in 2015 I knew I had to have some information at my fingertips, or I’d waste precious writing time trying to figure things out.

Over the years, before publishing my first novel, I took several online classes, attended several programs and presentations and even bought books to learn how to write better, faster, how to plot, outline, use a graph, or a chart or a Ouiji board. Okay, I didn’t use the Ouiji board but I’ve tried several different methods of planning my novels in advance and I find it difficult and disheartening that I cannot do it. I often do not know what my characters will do until I’m in the middle of the action. Sometimes I add a character in the middle of the story and have to go back to the beginning and show that he was there all along. So how can someone like me prepare for NaNoWriMo?

There is no one way to write a novel. In fact, there are probably as many ways to write a novel as there are people who write them. For me, I found that by combining different techniques and ideas, I could develop my own plan. I don’t plot but I plan my novel. So, here’s what I know before I start to write.

Genre: suspense thriller with strong romantic elements, I have to have a love interest.

Main Characters:

Hero: the main male character, in this particular story he is the main POV character.

Heroine: the main female character, love interest and second POV character.

Villain or anti-hero: this is the 3rd POV character and he is sort of the bad guy but thinks he’s the hero.

Cast of secondary characters:

This is a series so some of my past characters will be in this novel. How many, and who is still undetermined, but I can assume that the hero’s sister, the owner of the café where they all hang out, the Police Chief, and the SBI agent, and more than likely, the hero’s father will all have scenes. I’m also assuming the heroine’s sister will make an appearance as she has had brief parts in prior stories and will be the heroine in the next book. I may also introduce some of her other family members. All of these are easily referenced in my Series Bible. But for easy access during NaNoWriMo I’ll be implementing another plan. If you are interested stay tuned for the second part of this story.

Major Plot Details:

I know a few major plot details, for example I know why the fires are being set, I know who is setting them. I don’t yet know what I’m planning to burn or blow up, but I’ve got a couple of ideas.

I know the love interest, I’m not sure how they’re going to get from being antagonists to being in bed together, but half the fun is figuring it out.

I know one person who is going to die. I really enjoy planning my murders, sometimes I scare myself. I just never knew I had this inside of me. I blame it on the children. After six sons you stop thinking about romance and start considering murder.

Scenes:

I don’t have a lot of scenes planned but a couple are already in my head. Some are vague and others are quite vibrant. As I am planning my novel for NaNoWriMo, I write down these scenes, but I may or may not use them.

For now, all the planning is in my head but in order to get things straight and be prepared for NaNo, I’ll need to do something with this information. The question is, what way is best for you? If you haven’t checked out some of the YouTube NaNo Prep videos, check out #HeartBreathings, #WritersLifeWednesdays, Alexa Donne’s NaNoWriMo Tips for Newbies.

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2 thoughts on “Preparing for NaNoWriMo As a Pantser

  1. Hi Sherri,
    You are getting so prepared. I see all the emails about how to prepare this, practice writing, make your outline, and now research…Ugh…my story for Nov is still just a thought in my head. I have to get with it…..

    1. You don’t have to know everything but if you are doing magic, I would start with that. What can your characters do? Make sure they also have a weakness. If you know your character or your world. That’s a great way to start.

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