NaNoWriMo Prep: 5 Tips For Pantsers

Here are five tips to help the pantsers in our writing group, the people who write by the seat of their pants. They don’t use outlines, but they start writing. They have a premise and characters in their head and want to tell their story immediately. If you are such a writer or want to try writing like this, you might find these tips useful.

Create a solid premise and characters

If you’re reading this, then you already have an idea for a story. Write it down. Make a list of all the characters you want to include. Make sure you have space to write down more characters since there are always a few that weasel their way in. Make a list of all the places your characters go. Describe them. Give your characters memories. Backstory might not be relevant for the story itself, but it is for creating a motive for your character.

This can sound like plotting, but it’s just a tool you’ll use when you’re writing your story. During NaNo you won’t have time to think of everything. This process of creating your world and your characters is another exercise to tickle your brain for your story. You will find new parts of it when you’re working on this. Maybe you’ll even know how the story looks before you even set a word on paper.

Write down the major plot points

Even when you have your premise and characters, you need to know where your story is going. Every story has a few major plot points. Think of a reveal, a death, the climax, or the aftermath. Write these down on a timeline, so you know how much time passes between each event. You’ll either have to fill up the time between the events or think of a reason why you don’t want to write about those.

Be confident in your characters

Your characters are key. Characters can be incredibly stubborn and take over your story. They will tell you what’s happening in their lives. Listen to them. This will make your characters feel more alive. Should you get stuck on a scene, think about all the things that could happen and how your character would react to it. Pick the most interesting version and use that. Create hardship, let them experience all kinds of emotions, good ones and bad ones. Throw them in front of a bus and see if they can jump away on time.

You don’t have to coddle them. They will save themselves. As long as you let them.

Create a playlist and/or moodboard

Without a guideline, you need something else to hold on to. It can be your characters or the world you created, but the atmosphere of your story is another one that can help you. Go to Pinterest and create a board for your story. Pin everything that you think matches. Scenery, characters, clothing, buildings, colour schemes, quotes. Anything that comes to mind.

Music is a strong source of inspiration. Composers tell whole stories in their music. Find the right songs to match your story. Ghastly music for a spooky scene, or a full orchestra for dramatic effect. Try to listen to the changing music when you watch your favourite film. Feel how the music changes your perception of the story and emphasizes certain emotions. You can do that as well. Create your perfect writing playlist and get inspired.

Write another scene when you’re stuck

One thing that really helped me when I was stuck is to write something completely different. Maybe pick a scene in a different chapter, in a different part of the book. Start with the ending instead of the beginning. Maybe write your key scenes first and then fill the road from one point to another.

For some people lineair writing works well, others write whichever part they’re thinking about now. Figure out which works best for you. As a pantser you have declared yourself free from rules, so be free.

October is ‘NaNo Prep’-month on Narratess. Come back next week for more tips on how to prepare for a month of writing on steroids.

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