I've been buried in the planning stages of my new WIP this week, and...um...I love it. Not the WIP (although I do love that), but the planning. I call myself a pantser, but I'm sort of a hybrid pantser-plotter. I have to have several things in place before I can start a draft (or get very far into it): basic character sketches, a basic plot outline, and a basic setting.
And I'm here to tell you, it can actually be fun! Even you die-hard pantsers out there would have fun with some of these tools:
Polyvore - Create a character's fashion. Honestly, I thought this was silly when I first heard about it. Then I tried it. Do you have any idea how much fashion can tell you about a person? You can design sets that include outfits, jewelry, shoes, accessories...it's awesome. Check out my protag Vaea's fashion sense. It's a little telling, no?
MyWebFace - My crit buddy Chersti put me onto this one. I always have a basic idea of what my characters look like, but it's hard finding pictures on Google that match (I even signed up for one of those matchmaking sites so I could browse pictures of people!). On this site, you can design your own character how you want them. It's not exact, and it is a cartoon, but it's pretty fun. Here's Vaea. [PLEASE NOTE: Since writing this, I've learned MyWebFace is infamous for attaching spyware/malware to the required download. I had to remove it and the associated bad content from my own computer, so I regret to say I no longer recommend this!]
And, on the character note, I use the personality color code and the Meyers-Briggs personality types to help me get some of my first basic ideas for who my characters are. They give a very good basis to start a more detailed character sketch.
Freemind - This is the plotting tool for pantsers (and plotters, too!). It's a mind map software that author Simon Haynes uses to plot his books. If you check out his post, you can even see the base mind map he uses over and over. I use this base for every story, because you can be as detailed or as sparse as you want. I've even included such incredible outline points like "more bad stuff happens." I am, after all, somewhat of a pantser. But even so, it helps to get a linear look at my storyline.
I haven't found anything cool for designing a setting out there, so if any of you know of any sweet map creation software or something, feel free to share in the comments! I'm a big fan of Google images to get some ideas for my settings.
And...the new WIP does actually have a title now! For the moment, it's being designated Black and Blue (BaB), and it's a YA sci fi. Woot! I love starting a new book.
So, my friends, any planning tools or tips to share? What's your progress on your own WIPs?