Today I wrote chapter two of my new novel, and added another 2200 words to my pile.
I've learned something about myself already, and it's only the second day: I believe I'm an outliner when it comes to plot, but I'm a pantser when it comes to characters. This is a thing that's possible! I think the only reason I didn't realize it before is because I've always heard of planner vs. pantser as being an all or nothing thing. Sure, some people are more organized, more pantsy than others, but I've never heard anyone say they divide things up this way.
Here's why I believe it's true: I've been planning The Geek Club
for about a year, at least. Some aspects I've been working on for longer. It has been through two major incarnations, and I have incorporated an entirely different novel (which I trunked halfway through the planning process).
The planning process had been halted for a while, but in July I had a flash of inspiration to take the book in a whole different direction. At that point I had a general idea for plot, and several characters. Since July I've completed a full plot outline and written a tonne of worldbuilding notes.
Three days before NaNoWriMo started, I was still cudgelling my brain, trying to come up with villains.
I had one villain who wasn't going to be important until probably the third novel. I had several sub-plots that suggested antagonists I needed to come up with, and I couldn't come up with anything
Over the years, I've tried lots of different methods for developing characters. I would try questionnaires, write pages and pages of great info, and nearly all of it would get thrown out when I started the book. Whenever I was writing, I'd either completely forget about things I came up with in the questionnaire, or I would find it confining.
Today and yesterday, after a week of struggling to come up with something, anything that would constitute an antagonist for my story (other than faceless organizations), three living, breathing characters walked onto the page to interact with my main characters without any effort at all. I don't know everything about them, but they're great characters and I'm excited about them. And I feel like now that they exist
I can flesh them out.
So my tip today is: Everyone does it differently. Figure out what works for you, and do that. Keep an open mind, and don't assume that what works for other people is the only way to do it.