NaNo: Pantsing Your Novel

If you belong to one of the major (or perhaps any) writing forums across the vast Interwebs, you will learn there is a common argument among writers on the best way write. Some will argue that one must have an outline, the more thorough, the better. Others will promptly argue that one simply cannot write with all the stuffy outlining. It restricts the story and makes it impossible to write. And you have the Outliner vs. Pantser war. I’d say one can find these debates about once a month over on the forums at Absolute Write.

However, there is only one true rule for writing: You do what works for you and ignore the rest. There are a plenty of guidelines and good practices, particularly when one is a novice and just learning about the craft. But at some point you must cast off the recommendations of others and decide where you stand yourself.

The year before last when I tried NaNo, I outlined and I struggled. I found myself bored with my own story and that’s no way to write. Last year, I had an idea and then I just pantsed my efforts. I found I enjoyed myself so much more. And let’s face it, at this point, I’m not trying for publication and fun is all I have, so if I’m going to spend my precious time on anything, it’s going to be something that I enjoy. Free time is almost nonexistent at this stage of my life and I’m going to treasure it.

For this year’s NaNo, I had an idea about sword-wielding elven warrior/bodyguard. She has a chip on her shoulder and she manages to catch a ship on fire. That’s it. Then, I decided I probably should have some sort of idea what this chick’s deal is, so I wrote the prequel/prologue doohickie that I posted the other day. I learned she’s angry about her father’s death and her brother is the king. Also, that as a culture, everyone takes a shadow walk to learn about their future.

And that’s pretty much all I have to go. No fancy outlines, no bullet points, no diagrams. I just sit down at the computer, read a few lines of where I left off, and start writing. Then I keep writing. I figure I can outline my story during the editing phase. Since I’m using Scrivener, I just make a new notecard for every scene, so that if ever I need to swap scenes around and remove them all together, I can do it easily.

And this is what seems to be working for me. So I’m going to keep doing. Now, to just finish a novel…

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In other news, my NaNo t-shirt arrived. This is the first year I’ve purchased one and I’m pretty excited to have it.

And I’m loving Adele’s new song, Skyfall. It has that epic, climatic feel to it. Of course, it’s for a movie, so there’s probably a good reason for that.

What’s new in your world? Everyone ready for NaNo? Not much time left. Tick, tock, tick, tock…

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One thought on “NaNo: Pantsing Your Novel

  1. Great post, made me think… I outline, but I usually have plot – holes. So maybe I should do the “pantsy” approach… But I do like to know where I’m going when I’m writing. Great story sounds very interesting!

    There’s NaNoWriMo T- Shirts?! I will have to check that out!

    Adele’s song is amazing, and so is the film!

    I’m all ready for NaNo, and on my blog, I’m writing a post everyday about my progress, so be sure to have a look if you’re interested!

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