Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Preparations are Complete, Captain

So I've finished planning for Camp NaNoWriMo. The reason I say "planning" and not "plotting" is because I am one of those daring breeds that likes to write without an outline or strict map. Yep, I'm a pantser, writing by the seat-of-my-pants-or-more-often-my-pajamas. As long as I have a loose notion of where the novel is supposed to end up, and characters to drive the story, I find this works perfectly fine for me. Usually.

Yeah. Good enough.

What pre-novel planning I do do typically consists of:

  • character sheets for the main character(s) and any important minor characters
  • selecting character models or play-bys for said characters to help visualize
  • a brief plot synopsis that covers the gist of the story (while being deliberately vague)

This is all done.

In addition to these things, I've also come up with a title through a lengthy process of writing down lots and lots of titles because apparently I like coming up with them more than committing to one. I've even gone as far as to make a faux cover for the book. I like to think all this creative preparation helps keep me engaged with the story idea, which is especially important until I can begin getting the words down on the page.

The only downside to being so thoroughly prepared, by my own standards, is that I don't have anything else to do for the next three days, leaving me champing quite vigorously on the proverbial bit.

Which leaves me to ask the question: what do you do to prepare yourself for writing a novel, and how far in advance do you start planning?


  1. I like your pre-novel-planning style; every time you talk about it, it revs me up and makes me want to go pre-plan MY novel... and huzzah, this time it's not the middle of the school year!

    I find that taking control of novel writing can be hard for me... sometimes the plot won't be summarized until it wants to be, and sometimes it unfolds so quickly that I can hardly get it out of my head and onto the page fast enough! For me, it's a matter of timing... just enough time to get the thoughts organized, but not so much that they're stale by the time I start writing.


  2. @Adriane - Aww, I'm glad it helps motivate you! And I couldn't agree with you more about the timing; that is very important. Having a short attention span myself, I've found getting it written fast is the best route once the idea strikes me. Getting it written right can come later in editing. Although the perfectionist part of me might disagree with that, it still holds mostly true. xD

  3. Hmmm...good question. I don't really have a very good planning process, and I'm working on that myself :) I usually just get out my notebooks and plan for as long as it takes.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  4. I wish I can tackle a novel that way. I'm strictly an outliner haha, although I do character sheets also. And for me, coming up with a good synopsis takes a long time.

    But maybe one day I will just go rogue with writing :)

    And good luck for camp!!

  5. @Sarah Allen - Sometimes it takes time to figure out what works for you! Every writer's different, and seeing as there's a near endless variety of ways to write, it can be a challenge to decide how to go about it all.

    @Tina - A lot of times, I wish I was an outliner, too. xD But my characters are usually the sorts that defy scheduled plot points and do their own things. Synopsis are always a challenge for me, too, especially before you write the book because there's no way of knowing what will actually happen! And thank you! Good luck to you, too! Hope it's going well for you still!

  6. I usually start off a novel after a rough plan of major characters and character relations, a general synopsis of beginning-main conflict-end(resolution), and a rough system of how things work in that world. As I'm working, though, I continually make plans. I'm a planning person who likes to form ideas from general>specific, so it usually takes me a long time to plan before I get into the writing aspect. I don't know if this is a good idea - I haven't written long enough to know when I should stop planning and just let the story unfold - but finding what works for yourself is best!

  7. P.S. I just noticed you're reading Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin. How's that coming along? I just finished On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, which was amazing.

  8. @Maybelle - That does sound like a nice way to do it, though. Seems like a happy medium between planning and actually writing. The more planning I do beforehand, I find the more unhappy with the work I sometimes am once I actually begin writing because it never fits that OMGOSHBRILLIANT way the idea existed in my head. Nice thing about being a writer though is whatever works, works! =)

    I'm progressing slowly through the book since most of my time is being absorbed by writing, but I'm really enjoying it so far! I think the author is doing a good job with the source material, and his style is relaxing to read with some excellent descriptions. I can't say how it compares with On Stranger Tides, though; now there's a book I've been meaning to read, but haven't gotten around to yet!