It's the end of August, is that too early to be thinking about November?
The stores don't think so. I've already seen Halloween merchandise out for sale and I just heard someone complaining about hearing Christmas music. If the stores can do it, then we can to.
I've done my share of pantsing (flying by the seat of my pants) and plotting. Usually the pantsing is by accident, but that doesn't mean that one can't be prepared.
One of the best ways I've found to prepare my pantsing brain is to get my head around my characters. Sometimes this means sitting down an interviewing them, so that I know what makes them tick. Sometimes it means going through pictures online until I know exactly what they look like and every article of clothing in their wardrobe. Sometimes it's going on Youtube and figuring out what their favorite music is. Which one depends on what's important to that character. If I know what's important to the character, and what they want, then I know what can get in their way.
Plotting wise I've taken a couple different approaches. If it's a simpler plot then I'm happy to use index cards to cover each scene. But something more complicated needs more complex tools to boost it up.
For this November I've started to use Aeon, a timeline creating software. I find that it's particularly useful in helping me look at the past and the future. If a character is scared of fish, then there has to be an event that happened, right? Using the timeline it's much easier for me to see exactly what I'm missing, so see the bones of the past that support the future, and how the future itself will play out.
Every day from now until November I'm adding at least one piece or event to my timeline. What will you be doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo?