Some writers don’t begin writing until they have a fairly clear picture of what they’re going to write from beginning to end and seem to function best when organized. Others comfortably begin with a vague idea of story and characters, and seem to be comfortable unleashing their unconscious and letting the story unfold as they type. If you consistently use one approach, a cognitive pattern may become habitual.
Plotters, of course, are those who wouldn’t sit down to write a novel (or screenplay) until they’d come up with and pondered an idea; considered their protagonist’s and antagonist’s character arcs; conducted fairly extensive research; considered theme, setting, and tone; plotted the story from beginning to end; and created a complex biographical sketch for each of their characters.
Pantsers, on the other hand, still believe in muses, that inspiration will strike and their task will be to plant themselves in a chair, face a blank page, and dive right in. Even if they feel somewhat tortured by the process, they trust that their subconscious will deliver up a fascinating story idea, unforgettable characters, and take them, and their characters, on a delightfully surprising journey.
Most writers, however, fall somewhere in the middle, searching for an optimum way to come up with a fabulous and original idea, a way to tell the story that will capture attention and honor their craft, and a way to write it that allows them to get as many words written—as fast as possible—all without sacrificing craft.
If you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo and love to plot, Paula Munier’s Plot Perfect is a detailed guide that will appeal to plotters; but I would also recommend that pantsers give more thought than usual to what they want to write and sketch out more nuanced details: characters, setting, story and character arc—and, yes, plot. Those who always adhere to detailed plotting ahead of time may want to try something new, as well. Perhaps focusing less on a detailed outline and more on reading poetry or essays or meditating on the storyline while listening to music. Better yet, buy my book and learn multiple ways to maximize your brainpower while writing.
The goal is to shake up your writing process and try something new as a way to fire up your writing brain for NaNoWriMo, and all future work.