Plotter or Pantser

The age old question for writers. Do you plot? Or do you pants? Which is basically write into the mist.

I’m a plotter. I’m also a linear writer. I start with Chapter 1 and finish with The End. I don’t write chapters or scenes out of order. I don’t write a piece of dialogue because it just comes to me. I know how the story starts with the characters in place. I know some of the things that will happen to them on the journey. I know how it will all wrap up at the end.

Still, surprises do happen. Characters I never dreamed of make an appearance. Things will happen that make me wonder if the end will happen how I think it will. Ah, the joys of being a writer.

My best tool for plotting is posterboard, Post-Its, and a brainstorming buddy.

I love seeing the colors in my office. Blue for hero POV, Green for heroine’s POV, Purple for antagonist POV, Yellow for locations or details of scene, and Hot Pink for passion moments.

This plotting board was for Dangerous Shift, a shapeshifter paranormal romance that is still one of my favorite books I’ve written.


Jill James, romance writer

Never say never Part 2

About six months ago I wrote a post on Authors of Main Street about never saying never. I said I would never write a romance novel with a kid in it. Not only did Defend My Love have a kid but she had a main role in the story. I said I would never write a book in 1st person and I wrote Love in the Time of Zombies in first person and it is my best selling book to date. I said I would never volunteer in the writing world and I volunteer all over the place. My wallflower self has been kicked to the curb.

Recently I got to say never again and I mean it. I’m a linear writer. I start with Once upon a time… and finish up with …and they lived happily ever after. I do not write chapters out of order. But when I started writing A Time to Kill Zombies I knew I would have to do just that. I had four groups of survivors who were at different places and different timelines in the story. So I wrote it like:

Jack and Lila chapter 1
Jack and Lila chapter 2
Selena chapter 1
Selena chapter 2
Paul, Suz, and Josh chapter 1
Paul, Suz, and Josh chapter 2
Cody, Ran, and April chapter 1
Cody, Ran, and April chapter 2

and so on.

The writing was much easier that way. Putting it all together once it was written…not so much! A headache and a half. It was great to do the experiment but definitely a never again. (I mean it. Maybe. LOL)

Do you write in order or do you write wherever the whim takes you?

Readers: Do you read in order or skip around? Or heaven forbid, read the end first? 😮


Jill James, romance writer

ATimetoKillZombies 500x750A Time to Kill Zombies now live!!

Available at most online vendors
and coming soon in paperback.

Unexpected Surprises

Hi, my name is Jill and I’m a plotter. There. I’ve made my confession. I’m a major, anal-retentive plotter of books. I love Excel spreadsheets, white boards, post-it notes, and outlines.

LoveintheTimeofZombies 200x300Now, I know that you pantsers won’t understand, but plotters can be surprised by their story just like you. We can outline to our hearts’ content and still have a surprise jump up and grab us by the throat in a story. I haven’t had it happen in a long time so it was a feel-good moment when it happened in my current WIP, Love in the Time of Zombies.

I was just cruising along, with two of my characters going to the library hoping to find some ‘how-to’ books to help in the ZA (zombie apocalypse). But wait, I’ll show you what I mean…

**Unedited WIP**

An intense ten minutes later, and they reached the library with limited killing. Seth used a machete and she used a small pick-axe she’d picked up at a hardware store. The door to the building stood open, with darkness as far as she could see inside.

Turning, she checked out the street as Seth made his way through the entrance with her following. Miranda held her breath as he snapped a Glo stick and rolled it across the floor. It came to rest against a pile of papers. Her heartbeat sped up at the familiar smell of books and the graham crackers of story time.

An exhaled breath left her as silence filled the building. No moans, no shambling footsteps, no voices telling them to put their hands up. She took a chance. Although it seemed wrong for a library, she breathed in and called, “hello” in a loud voice.

“Well, you couldn’t have come for food, since there isn’t any. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t anyone  left to help you check out a book anymore.”

Her breath caught in her throat.

**And so did mine. Wait, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone in the library. This was definitely a search and retrieve mission. Maybe a conversation of moving on to another town, another area. Then I was left with the dilemma; is it a man or a woman in the library? Or maybe a child? An epiphany came to me. I knew who was in the library and what it would mean for Seth and Miranda. You will have to read the book to find out.

Coming Soon!! I really, really promise.

Jill James, contemporary and paranormal romance writer

Plotter or Pantser

The age old question for writers. Do you plot? Or do you pants? Which is basically write into the mist.

I’m a plotter. I’m also a linear writer. I start with Chapter 1 and finish with The End. I don’t write chapters or scenes out of order. I don’t write a piece of dialogue because it just comes to me. I know how the story starts with the characters in place. I know some of the things that will happen to them on the journey. I know how it will all wrap up at the end.

Still, surprises do happen. Characters I never dreamed of make an appearance. Things will happen that make me wonder if the end will happen how I think it will. Ah, the joys of being a writer.

My best tool for plotting is posterboard, Post-Its, and a brainstorming buddy.

I love seeing the colors in my office. Blue for hero POV, Green for heroine’s POV, Purple for antagonist POV, Yellow for locations or details of scene, and Hot Pink for passion moments.

This plotting board was for Dangerous Shift, a shapeshifter paranormal romance I hope to have out as self-published this spring.

Jill James