Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Prepare Before Starting a Book

There are two kinds of writers: plotters – people who plan their novel before starting it, and pantsers – people who just type and let the book develop how it wants.

As a plotter, I’m curious how pantsing a book would even work. I think plotting makes the writing easier, faster, and better… and if I’m going to write 50,000 in 30 days this November, I need my writing to be all three of those things.

Beginning a book can be daunting, especially for Nano, but preparing can make it much easier. For all Nano authors; if I were you, I'd start preparing now. For those of you who aren't, this should still be useful.

Between writing Sacred Fire and Hunger, I’ve learned a few tricks. I’m doing many things to prepare for Fierce before the clock strikes 12:01 am on November 1st.  Some things worked with my other books, some I didn't do but wish I had done, and some I've never tried before. 

For the rest of the week, I’ll share my methods. In November, I’ll talk about what helped, what I couldn’t live without, and what didn’t make that big of a difference.

Before we get started tomorrow, let’s discuss; are you a pantser, or a plotter? Which do you feel is better and why?


  1. I do a certain amount of planning beforehand but I leave myself plenty of room for improvising as I write. If I do too much planning, the story feels dead to me.

    BTW, I awarded you the Versatile Blogger award over the weekend. Congratulations!

  2. It completely depends on what I am writing. If it is historical or science fiction, I plot because I need to have a firm grasp on the world and the events that create it.

    If it is more contemporary and with a familiar world, I just start writing and see what happens.

  3. I used to be a pantser with a side of plotting. I'd get an idea, come up with a conflict, add characters, and let it fly. It usually ended up with a lot of winding around-- and back then, I was not good at rewriting, if I did it at all.

    Now I'm more of a plotter with a side of pantsing. Plotting makes things so much easier, and actually helps me be more creative.

  4. Both. I start out as a plotter, but then as I writer, I usually notice dramatic opportunities and themes that I've missed. Then I go back and revise accordingly, then then shifts the plot accordingly. If I'm anything, I'm a big reviser (as you know too well! ;).

  5. I never understood the term "pantser" (or "pantsing" either, for that matter). Does if have anything to do with the old "--by the seat of your pants" saying?

  6. I'm a definite planner! I take it all the way to the extreme with a journal the size of a one inch text book in my purse. I also carry a voice recorder for any conversations that come to my mind. I look like an idiot talking the entire conversation in my voice, but it works for me!

    As for the "Pantser'" I envy them. The ability to fly by the seat of your pants is something I would NEVER be able to do! My hats are off to them! :)

  7. I'm definitely a plotter. I used to be a panster and it just didn't work for me--I kept getting stuck.

    I've actually been running on a schedule these last few months to make sure I have at least a month or two of planning time for my NaNo project. So far, things are going just as planned :)

  8. I think for many people it's a false dichotomy. For most it's a bit of both. My feeling is that there're relatively few pure pantsers

  9. Kristina: You should stick around this week! Since you and I are doing the same thing, I'd love to hear more about how you prepare and how your methods differ from mine.

    Mike: totally agree, though I think people lean toward one or the other. I also think some people consider themselves pantsers when they're not.


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