NaNoWriMo: Planner or Pantser?

Planner or Pantser?

Last week I told you that I had decided to use a 25-year-old idea for my NaNoWriMo project this year. And then I didn’t tell you what that project was.

I wanted to leave you something for this week.

In the early 1990s, I went back to school at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California. While there, I was president of the Christian Fellowship Club for several semesters. That was an interesting time. I saw a lot of different things. I experienced a lot of different things. I learned a lot of different things while I was there, and all because of that position that I held.

My novel will be based upon my experiences with the Christian Fellowship Club at LMC. It will be a story of a maverick finding himself thrust into a position of leadership in a typically conservative organization.

And that leads me to my NaNoWriMo Topic of the Day.

Planners versus pantsers.

Like so many other endeavors, NaNoWriMo has grown its own vocabulary. One of the common dialogues you will find at NaNoWriMo groups is between Planners and Pantsers.

Some writers like to have their project planned out in advance. They have their research complete and organized. They have their book outlined. They know in advance all of the twists and turns that their stories will take. These are the Planners. 

Then you have those who prefer to Fly By the Seat of Their Pants. Hence, Pantsers. They usually have no idea where their story will go. They might not even have all of their characters in mind when they start. They like to be as surprised while writing it as their readers will be when reading it.

When I worked on my memoir project, I was definitely a Planner. It was a memoir. I knew where the story went, and how it ended. I knew all of the characters. I just needed to write those memories down in a creative way. 

This year, while my story is based upon my experiences, those experiences will be the basis for a fictionalized version of that story. My tenure as president spanned the better part of two years. I am going to compress that story into nine months, using material from the breath of my time there, plus some completely fictionalized complications.

Do I have this story outlined? Nope. Do I know all of the characters in the story yet? I know the principal characters, about five of them right now, but not all of them. Do I know how the story ends?  Roughly, yes, but I am going to include a fictional problem as a major point of the book…maybe the major point of the book…and I do not know yet how that problem will be resolved. I do have one specific event that will tie all of the others together.

Do I have any of this written down? Nope. I only have the basic ideas that have been living in my head for 25 years.

Am I terrified as I prepare to plunge into this project? Absolutely!

I believe I have joined the Pantsers this year.

Wish me luck!

Do any fellow NaNoWriMo players want to give us a snapshot of their experiences so far this year? Leave a comment!


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