I would recommend staying away from pencils. Because of the way we are trained to hold a pencil many artist's tend to creep way up the pencil and lean too much into their drawings. This creates a limited focal point and leads to too much specifity on part to part versus the whole.
Work broad and start with a gesture of the overall set-up and figure. Locate the figure in space on your page as well as surrounding objects. Having objects outside of the figure will give the drawings context as well as assist you with scale and proportion.
I prefer to work with large peices of vine charcoal, a Mars plastic eraser, and a chamois. The chamois can erase as well as create soft tones. They are excellent for figure drawing. You can wash them too if you want but you can make tones better with a dirty one so I never wash mine.
Check out the Natural Chamois at DickBlick.com.
Work with vine charcoal that is thick (you can rub it on sandpaper to make a point if you need detail).
At Dick Blick Coates charcoal in thick or extra thick is a good option.
If you want drama and immediacey try the Alphacolor CharKole, it is intense black, velvety soft, but extremely difficult to erase. This is great on a smooth paper for gesture drawings. The square shape lets you have several mark making options as well.