Once again this year, I will be challenging myself by participating in National Novel-Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). For those that are curious, this is a personal writing challenge, to write 50,000 words of a novel in just 30 days. Many people say they want to write a novel "someday". Well, National Novel-Writing Month says, "That day is now! Or, rather, that day is November 1." This will be my ninth year particpating and I've completed the challenge eight times. Not to mention its sister event, ScriptFrenzy, which I've participated in five times. So it is very do-able.
There are two basic types of novelists: plotters, and pantsers. Plotters like to figure out at least the broad outlines of the characters, plot and setting before starting, and are uber-prepared come November 1. Pantsers are "seat of the pants" type of people, and mostly like to just "see what happens" as they write.
I've always been more of a pantser. I will start with a grain of a plot idea and a main character. Yes, I said "a" main character. And even that character isn't usually fully developed. But I'm still able to start writing on November first and weave something together (sometimes it's even pretty good!) comprising 50,000 words by November 30th. I'm not always happy with it, but, I'm done for the year.
Every year I think that next year, I'm going to start earlier, and actually plan out my characters a little better. If you know more about them, their likes, dislikes and motivations, it's easier to imagine how they would react in the scenarios your writing is putting them in. I know this, and every year I don't do this. Every year, I procrastinate until about October 25th, then I slap together some names and ages and off I go when November rolls around. Well, that was before. This is now.
This year, I'm going to make an attempt to be less of a pantser, at least as far as the characters go. Starting right now. Every weekend in September, I'm going to design a character. I'm going to write a page or a scene or a story that describes them and their motivation. Maybe I'll even post some of my character sketches here. Not every character may get used this November. Heck, maybe I'll just be a pantser again this year. But at least it won't be for lack of trying!