Monday, 28 November 2016

Pantsing, planning and NaNoWriMo


This is how I feel, two days before the end of NaNoWriMo.

It's been a challenge, and I'm 12,500 words from the end. I probably won't win, but I'm okay with that. I have a new story that probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't taken part - I'd have been stuck in a never-ending rewriting/editing rut.

I'm posting today for a bit of a rant... a rant against myself!

I'm a pantser. Always have been. It's not the best way to write, I amble around and spend three years trying to figure out the story I'm telling. Pah. Rubbish. Especially as I then spend another three years rewriting, then giving up and hiding it in a drawer, then pulling it out again.

One new novel every ten years is slow, to say the least.

When I decided to do NaNo this year, I had a week to prepare and thought I might do a bit of plotting. In itself, it didn't go too badly, although the story keeps shifting, new characters are appearing and others have vanished off the page. The beach has been a constant feature, my MC's failing art career has stuck too - although she's still nameless - and there's a shadowy character that might be a dead sister, memory of her mother or a childhood imaginary friend.

And then there's X - the real subject of my rant.

X is also nameless. He started off as my MCs female flatmate, turned into her male fiance and - as of the very early hours of this morning - is her student lodger who bakes chocolate cake. At one point he/she was going to accompany MC on a lengthy road trip, but now the trip has taken a backseat and might just be one night in a Premier Inn to break up the trip to the beach. So much for planning!

It was a good experiment, though - I've realised I can neither pants or plot effectively, so I guess I'll just bumble along as I always have, but with the knowledge that bumbling really is the best way forward 😔


How is/was NaNoWriMo for you?
Are you a regular participant, or was this your first time?
What advice would you offer to me?




42 comments:

  1. Hi Annalisa ... I guess we need to plan if we're writing a novel ... I don't really plan my blog posts, but just occasionally I need to pull myself up - and work out the ending!

    The ISWG has a new post up today by Chrys Fey ... interviewing James Scott Bell - exactly about this subject ... way to go and learn?! I found it fascinating ...

    Well done on getting so far with a new book ... and I don't think I'll ever do NaNo ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Your posts always tie up so neatly, so whatever you do works well!

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  2. I'm a serial plotter these days, and I still need three years to figure out what story I'm telling. (Hmmm. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.)

    I never plot out my NaNo projects, though. I just kind of jump with with a name for the MC and a target genre. During one of my last NaNos, though, my MCs didn't have any names, either. After about 10k, I decided that they just weren't meant to. Of course, I've never finished that particular project, but that's okay...

    Even if you don't get the win, you'll still have accomplished something great!

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    1. Names can be so cumbersome, but some of my other characters are really struggling to know how to address her. "Hey, you" was a particularly low moment :-)

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  3. This year, I did a lot more planning for NaNo than I usually do, and I found it worked for me. The story itself ended early, but then I worked on backstory and flashback scenes.

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    1. Flashbacks are great. Everything counts this month, and then you can weed out the weaker stuff afterwards. Well done!

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  4. I'm a bumbler too! Didn't realize it until now but yep, that describes me too.
    I didn't even come close to finishing NaNo and in fact quit early on but I'm okay with it as it finally convinced me that the story was meant to be a short story and not a novel.
    Love the pic of Artoo!

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    1. Hey, but you've got a short story out of it! :-)

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  5. I say it's still going to be a win!
    Glad to know I', not the only one who sometimes writes about nameless characters.
    As an avid plotter, I'd have no idea how to write without one.

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    1. I'm not sure how to write either way - I turn around at random times and find a manuscript waiting for me to edit it... Perhaps I'm not the one writing it, perhaps I have elves... ;-)

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  6. With that much written, I agree with Alex and say you're a winner! I'm a pantser. I'm trying to teach myself to plot, but any plotting I do try, I either deviate from or it turns into a rambling rant. Thankfully my muse is a much more confident pantser than I am. I didn't do NaNo this year, but I've done it for ten years, and I just run with it. I describe every little thing. Showers can take a thousand words!

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    1. That's a great way to approach it. I've wittered on a lot more than I usually would :-)

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  7. I did not do NaNo this year, but I think the key is to not overthink or be too hard on yourself. The goal is words and maybe they don't make sense now or flow in order. That's okay. Then you can spend your next 10 years rewriting !!!

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    1. Yes, that's the plan. Though hopefully I can cut it down to 5 years!

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  8. The image of the dog says it all!

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  9. Sounds like you've done fantastically! We all have different ways of working and when I've done NaNo I found it was hard to plan. I don't normally write that fast and I had to be a lot more spontaneous. It's more fun that way. Sounds like you've got a lot going on in your story anyway and it's something new to work with!

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    1. Exactly. I never would have written that much without signing up and being accountable. I'm already thinking about doing it annually.

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  10. I've yet to do NaNo; I'm not sure I am disciplined enough to see it through. Plan? Never! Open a blank page, sit for a few seconds then...we are off!

    Visit Keith's Ramblings

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    1. You write so much on your blog, so I'd say you have the discipline to write daily - just need a few more words :-)

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  11. I think I'd prefer the lodger who bakes cakes. I'll be joining you in not "winning" NaNo this year, although to be honest, I very rarely do. And I'm OK with that. I have more words than I would have otherwise!

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    1. The lodger sounds perfect doesn't he? That's how I feel about the word count too.

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  12. I like how your character kept changing; that can change the story, and that's happened to me too. In fact, it made the story even more interesting. I know what you mean about one novel in ten years. I was reading through a manuscript that I hadn't worked on in a while, and it struck me that I started it almost ten years ago and never finished revising it.

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    1. The thing with old manuscripts is updating all the technology and social media references :-)

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  13. If you have a new story and have learned something useful about yourself as a writer, you're definitely a winner.

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    1. Yes, to both of those things, thanks Patsy :-)

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  14. A little secret for you, I had to plot 3 different books and write them entirely before I found my pace and built an outline that worked. It's definitely a question of practice--but I write a TON faster with an outline.

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    1. I have tried it before, but it's really alien for me. I feel stifled. Perhaps I just need to persevere because it would be nice to write faster! (I think banning myself from Facebook and Twitter might work towards that though.)

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  15. Relax! Enjoy and celebrate what you've accomplished! - I Nano-ed my way through my first novel without a name for my main villainess, and she had some POV scenes. That is what revision is for. I've done Nano once before successfully, and once less successfully, but it definitely is a good swift kick in the writing pants, either way.

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    1. It definitely makes me realise I CAN write quicker if I really try, and that my procrastination levels are Olympic-sized!

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  16. I'm pretty sure Donna Tartt only writes one book every ten years and she won the Pulitzer. so I think your doing just fine!

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    1. Actually, Donna Tartt was who I had in mind when I referenced 10 years - but she's very much the exception, isn't she? I'll definitely attempt no more than 5 years per book ;-)

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  17. I'm afraid I can't offer much advice on this one, Annalisa because it sounds so much like the way I write too! I do think you have loads of great ideas here though . . . maybe enough for more than one story. Congrats on all the words you wrote last month.

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    1. I like hearing that I'm not the only one who works in a slightly cack-handed way :-) The story's coming together, and I've written another 5000 since Thursday. I've even figured out the just-before-the ending!

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  18. I'm the same as you and Suzanne! This year for NaNo, I decided to just write and see what happens (I normally plot with spreadsheets and everything) - I already know at least half the stuff I wrote won't make it into my book, but I did find the whole exercise useful, because I feel like I've learnt a lot more about my book and myself as a writer. I had the same issues with my characters - I changed their names halfway through, one has become more of a main character, and one character I now realise I'm probably going to have cut completely *sigh*. December is going to be interesting...best of luck with finishing your novel :)!

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    1. That all sounds really positive, Rachel. Switching characters around will be interesting - hopefully you won't have to cut too much.

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  19. Congrats on getting to the end of NaNo, Annalisa. It doesn't really matter is you're a pantser or a plotter - as long as the words get written. You can sort out the jumble once it's all there. You are a fantastic writer and so WILL sort it, I'm sure. Have a super December. Enjoy the festivities and wishing you a very successful new year.

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    1. Thanks Nicola. The jumble sorting has been on hold for a couple of days, but hopefully I'll be back to it soon!

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  20. Don't be annoyed with yourself. Just accept who you are and what you can do (and what you can't); no sense fighting your style and preferences. Congrats on getting words on the page and getting so close to winning! Now you have a good amount to go into edits with. :)

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    1. The story actually changed quite a lot as I went along, so I'll be picking out the nonsense soon, and cracking on with the good bits :-)

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  21. I can't offer you advice because I, too, am a bumbler. I have plotting moments and pantsing moments, but I cannot find the story elements on my schedule apparently. So ...

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