Nanowrimo 2015: Pants, Plot or Skeleton It?

It’s three days to the kick-off of Nanowrimo 2015 and as I pull together my prep notes, agonize over which characters will live and which will get nommed by zombies, I have to ask a critical question of those taking this leap with me:

Are you a plotter, pantser… or a member of my skeleton crew?


You’ll hear a lot from Nano types about those first two options, so let’s get them out of the way:

Pantser:  someone who flies by the seat of one’s pants and writes straight from the brain.  I did this for my first Nano experience.

Plotter:  someone who outlines the entire book in advance of the wacky, sleepless world of Nano.  Last year, I wrote Waiting For A Star To Fall this way.  It was the most I’ve outlined a project prior to starting.

Usually, though, I fall somewhere in the middle of these options.  This is where I propose my third option:  the Skeletoner.  What’s that, you ask?  Chances are, some of you Plotters out there are actually skeleton-style writers.

Skeletoner:  someone who roughly outlines the general arc of their novel, but feels free to deviate, add or shift the story as the spirit moves them.  Basically, they’re Pansters who need a loose framework to support their creativity.

One of the things that frustrated me with writing Star last year was having to adjust any changes I made like a ripple throughout the outline.  Granted, Star was one of those books that came together very neatly and the Muse made very few detours.  I do have to wonder, though, if the outline threw up roadblocks.

So I’m going back to what got me through so many writing projects in the past: the skeleton system.  I outline the book, sure, but what that really amounts to is rough mile markers and key scenes.  Is it subject to change?  Absolutely.  I’m already changing it in my skull as I write this.  Could I decide to add some wild new zombie slaughters along the way?  Why not?

What I have is a loose itinerary:  introduce characters; introduce zombies; terrorize poor characters as they terrorize the people they hate serving; and maybe let them live at the end.  Maybe.

I’m not the only one to endorse less outlining and more freedom, by the way.

So tell me, fellow Nanos:  which of the three are you?  Are you maybe realizing that you don’t so much as plot as make a wishlist?  Is your November writing vacation set in stone or subject to flights of fancy?  Or are you simply going to spin the globe, point a country out and write all about it?  Let me know in the comments below!


Published by A.C. Dillon

A.C. Dillon is an insomnia-driven Canadian author, who enjoys parlaying personal sleeplessness into keeping readers from their own slumber. When not sending a laptop into steaming fits of overworked rage, A.C. can be found listening to an obsessive music collection or watching Empire Records for the 338th time.

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