The plotser. The plantser. Whatever.

Are you a planner or a pantser? Hmm? As NaNo approaches, inquiring minds want to know.

I’m neither.

And I’m both.

I’m a plotser.

I can’t go in blind or I write utter gibberish, drifting from one topic to the next until even I don’t know what genre I’m writing or why the mouse has a pet dragon – or where the mouse even came from.

But if my outline is too detailed? Forget it. I’ll add nine words to my outline and call it done. It stifles me if the entire story is completely planned out from A to Z.

So what’s a girl to do? I plots. I plots the ever loving shit out of my books.  My NaNo plotsing looks a little different the other 11 months of the year, but for the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on NaNo.

To start, I need to know my characters well – I need to know how they’re going to respond in every situation. I need to be able to feel the second a book goes astray – because they will, they always do – and I need to catch it before we genre hop and that dragon comes wandering onscreen.

Once I know my characters, I pick my end point. I write primarily romance, so that’s easy for me – happily-ever-after is my end point. It’s my goal in life. But every HEA looks a little different and means something different for those two characters. So, I pick the best HEA I can give those two specific characters – for this year, it’s Iris Southerhind and  Donovan Cirillo.

After my HEA is picked (point Z), I find my starting point. This year’s novel is book two in a series, so my start is a given. Point A is spring break, the U of M campus. Iris and Don’s senior year of college.

I’ve got my A and my Z and now I like to choose two or three points in between there. Major events in the lives of my characters. Sometimes it’s the black moment – we’ll call that T, and sometimes it’s that first turn in the novel, where things start to get hinky – point F. Sometimes, it’s just a really epic kiss when your characters have finally both acknowledged their attraction to one another and stopped fighting it long enough to let their guard down – point K.

I’ve got my five plot points – A, F, K, T, Z – and that’s all I’m going to plot out. The letters don’t matter; they’re placeholders for me, just so I know approximately where I think they probably happen in the book. I usually know a few other things that need to happen during the book – Iris plays a prank on Don – but don’t know where it will go so I leave it on the back burner and drop it in when it feels right.

This leaves me with the other twenty-one letters of the alphabet to play with. It also gives me the freedom to to move the first turn to point C if it fits there better. If I know what point I’m moving toward, it helps me steer the story without dictating every turn before I really know the book.

How do you NaNo?


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