Organizing Your Novel For PANTSERS!


Last week, we went over the documents I use to organize my novel as a plotter.

Today, I'm going to show all of you PANTSERS how to organize your novel (without much outlining)! I often recommend that you outline your novel, but if it works better for you to "pants" it, then that's just fine!

But every writer needs to stay organized.

The method of pantsing will vary from writer to writer, but today, I'm going to show you the documents I created to help me ORGANIZE my "pantsing" novel!

Let's go!

MATERIALS USED

When I was working on a previous novel, I decided to "pants" it.

So when I organized my "pantsing" novel, I didn't need anything except for SEVEN Microsoft Word documents. I put these in a folder and tilted it with my novel's current title. (If your novel is untitled right now, just label it with "Untitled Novel Folder" or "Castle Novel Folder"—something that will remind you of which novel it is.)

If you're using Google Docs, go ahead and create SEVEN documents. Then you can use a Google Sheet to organize your documents any way you'd like to!

For my novel, In His Hands, I used a notebook too, but that was only when I was away from the computer.

So how did I use SEVEN DOCUMENTS to organize my novel? Does that sound intense? Complicated?

Let's find out!

THE SEVEN AMAZING DOCUMENTS

When I was working on my novel, I'd click on the Microsoft Word folder and highlight and open all of the documents in that folder. That way, they would pop up quickly and easily. With Google Docs, you have to click on and open each document individually.

The seven documents had names:
  1. Bits of Planning
  2. When Editing  . . .
  3. Discards
  4. Documenting my Progress
  5. Notes
  6. [Novel Title] Novel
  7. Images
I'll briefly go through each of these documents now!

1. NOTES

Yay, notes! I loved this document because I could keep track of any notes that popped into my head. Characters' first/last names and ages, for example, is something good to add to this document as well. You can add anything to this document that you don't want to forget.


2. BITS OF PLANNING

Even though I wasn't a "real" plotter, there were some scenes that I outlined, at least a little bit. This was the document where I wrote longer notes and plans for my novel. It wasn't a full outline—only snippets.


3. WHEN EDITING . . .

In His Hands was the first novel to undergo this document! Basically, when I realized something needed to be fixed, I quickly wrote it down. Why didn't I just fix it right away? Well, I usually didn't want to take the time to go all the way back through my novel and fix the problems, especially if they were big. Also, I didn't want to use up my creative energy fixing something that I can do later. I wanted to use that energy to write the rest of my novel first!

But, of course, this also posed problems. I have not edited my novel because it needed too much work, which I'm not willing to put into it at this time. If you're going to be a pantser, you have to choose wisely how you edit! This document can be helpful for that!

Now, if you think seven documents is A LOT and too much for you to keep track of, that's totally fine! You can put all three of these documents into one, since they're all about NOTES—but more specific kinds of notes!

Whatever works for you!

4. DOCUMENTING MY PROGRESS

This document is FANTASTIC!

This is one of my favorite documents because I can see when I started my novel, when I reached 1,000 words, 5,000, 10,000, and so on. It’s keeping track of my progress. I like to mark the date when I reach another 5,000 words or another 50 pages. It's just something to celebrate! Of course, you can customize your document, but this is what I like to use.

5. DISCARDS

Discards is one of the most important documents I have, and here’s why: If there’s a part in my novel that I love, but can’t use, I cut it from my novel and paste it into Discards. That way, I still have the piece of writing, but it’s not messing up my novel. (Trust me: you don’t want to make the mistake of deleting it! Guess who’s learned that the hard way? Yep . . . Learn from my mistakes!)

6. [NOVEL TITLE] NOVEL

Need I say more? ;) This is the document where the real magic takes place! I actually WRITE my novel here! I like to use fancy type for chapter headings, which makes it feel like a real book. I've used different fonts for the type, but I really like Times New Roman and Georgia.

7. IMAGES

This is the FUN document! Everyone loves to have images for their books, right?

You can add mock covers, character images, and MORE to this awesome document!


I didn't have it at the time, but I would recommend getting the FREE character and story template that I created and using that to help you get a good grip on your characters, their personalities, beliefs, goals, etc. You don't have to fill everything out if you don't want to.


So there you have it! For all you pantsers out there, I hope you have found this helpful!

READ MORE:



what about you?
So what about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser? Have you tried both options? Which do you find the most helpful?

6 comments:

  1. Thanks Julia! I’m a pantser so I’m excited to try this out!

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    1. You're welcome, Fe! Glad you found this helpful! :D

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  2. Even though I use an outline pretty faithfully now, I’m still a pantser at heart, so this is still super helpful. ;)

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  3. I'm a plotser, so I can't wait to try this out with my writing!

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    1. Yay! I'm sure you'll find it helpful! It really helped me! :D

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