NANOWRIMO: Planner or Pantser? It doesn’t matter…

You know who you are as a writer–either you love to plan out every detail, or you love the thrill of writing by the seat of your pants, not knowing where it might take you…

pantsher_badge planner_badge

but it doesn’t matter. One area even the Pantser needs to think about is WHAT KIND OF NOVEL WILL I WRITE? In my mind, the first choice is the easiest:

Will I write a LITERARY novel or a GENRE novel?

What exactly IS “literary” anyway? To help me explain, I’m going to direct you to Jane Friedman’s blog where she covers four key components: intellect, depth, character, and style: What is a literary novel?(Just remember to come back, okay?)

Now, you might think “genre” is easier to think about. I mean, when you mention genre, several pop to mind almost immediately:

  • Crime
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Action / Adventure
  • YA
  • NA
  • Historical
  • Humor

 BUT remember that there are cross-genres and sub-genres out there, and it might just complicate the decision a bit. For example, the Pantser will be happy knowing he’s writing a fantasy novel, but the Planner will need to know much, much more…

Comic fantasy? Dark fantasy? Contemporary fantasy? Heroic fantasy? Magic realism? Mythic? Paranormal? Shenmo? Superhero? Sword and Sorcery? Prehistoric? Medieval? Urban? Wuxia? Urban? Dystopian?

It’s enough to make the Pantser get up out of his seat and run for cover…but the Planner likes…choice.

And just to make it clear as an oil spill, think about this…The Sisters Brothers , a western, won a Governor General’s award, a prize that is typically given to “literary” novels. Is it even POSSIBLE to have a literary western???

In any case, the first job you have is to think about what kind of book you might like to write. It sounds complicated, until you consider the most common type of advice given:

Write what you READ.

Planning step #1 will be on the blog tomorrow. If you’re a Planner (or a Pantser who wants to try something different), come join us. I have a group of nearly 20 so far who are going to join us in October as we plan out novels for November.

Tomorrow: Step One…the smallest step, but one of the most important!

Laura Michaela Banse

Great article! I have always been a panster – an idea would hit and I would furiously write, only to stop a few pages later with no where to go.

My big breakthrough was two-fold. A) I chose to finally attempt a historical fiction, which is my first choice of reading material… and 2) I actually outlined, and plotted, and everything.

31,000 words in less than 2 months later… I think I’m on to something!

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