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.

Work in Progress

Or WIP as it is used in a writer’s world. Right now I’m in the middle of zombie book #2. The zombie apocalypse books were outside my comfort zone to write in two ways.

First, they are romance novels through and through, but there are many ooey, gooey zombie parts. hahaha (pun intended)

DSC01976Second, they have a large cast of heroes, heroines, villains, and survivors. So I decided to use index cards and a divided cardboard backer to keep track of people and some basic info like hair and eye color and how they are related. When I moved on to book #2 I got rid of those who had died (R.I.P.) or not, if they were a villain and I grouped people by who they would hook up with in this current book. Have some interesting match-ups that I had not planned. 🙂





*If you are a writer, do you have some organizational tips to share?

*If you are a reader, do you like a close, couple of people, intimate story or a broad, action/adventure, cast of thousands? (LOL)

Jill James, writer of romance (even in the zombie apocalypse)
Book #2 Title Reveal coming soon to my newsletter subscribers!!
http://eepurl.com/hvtn-/

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

Back to School for Writers

No, not actual school or workshops or classes. I’m talking about the Back to School sales at Staples, Office Depot, and such. Yes, office supply stores. Nirvana for writers. I can spend all day in a Staples store looking at index cards (did you know they come in colors now?) and folders and binders and pens and Sharpies!!

plot boardI use a white board marked in chapter grids and colored Post-Its for plotting my books. I get a new package for each book. I use the colors for POV; pink for heroine, blue for hero, and purple for villain. I use hot pink/fuchsia for love scenes/romantic moments and green for location/setting notes. At one glance I know if I’m in one POV too long or not long enough. I know the romance turning points. I can see if the villain is stealing the show.

You can never have too many notebooks, pens, and highlighters. (needs no explanation)

I always find something unique when I go into an office supply store. Something I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. LOL

What is your favorite writer tool to get at the office supply store?

Jill James, contemporary and paranormal romance writer

 

Fickle, much?!! by Jill James

I don’t usually think of myself as fickle. I don’t whiffle and waffle between two things. When I form an opinion of someone or something, it usually sticks for as long as I know the person or thing. Only one person in my whole life did I change my opinion and then it turned out I was right the first time. 🙂 So, I find it funny that I’m now under a bruising deadline to finish a story because I couldn’t make up my mind which story I wanted to write.

This Christmas I did a short story (The Christmas Con) so I could be in the boxed set with the Authors of Main Street group. That story only had 800 words before I started but I managed to make it almost 9,000 and put it in the set. So, then we decided to do another boxed set this summer and I needed a story to go into the set. I plotted, I schemed, and I tried to plan. Nothing! I could not come up with a plotline to save my life. So then I dug a previously hiding-in-the-harddrive story out of the mothballs to finish for the story. It is a great story but as I’m writing and plotting scenes I realized this story will be a full-length novel, nothing like the 15-25k we set as the guidelines. So, back to the drawing board. Darn, now what do I do?

What lots of writers do!! Mine real life for a fictional story. So, with my friend’s permission, I will be using her life story as the basis of Claire’s and Jimmy’s story. So, now with the deadline approaching fast, I’m back to writing a whole story in basically a month. Fingers and toes crossed, I can do this!!!

Do you ever set yourself impossible deadlines? Does it help or hinder you?

Jill James, writer of contemporary and paranormal romance
(busily writing Claire and Jimmy a romantic happily-ever-after)

Writers Retreat

Being a writer is using the creative side of your brain. If you get into a rut of write, write, write, the creative well runs dry. Sometimes you need to refill the well. I like to do this by going to conferences, workshops, and retreats.

This past week I went with a group of good friends to a retreat at Mt. Shasta. It is truly one of the most beautiful parts of my state of California. We stay at a home owned by one of our chapter mates. It is nestled, all snug in the woods.

We write, we plot, we brainstorm, we eat, we drink, we make merry. And we come back from the retreat refreshed and ready to put butt into chair, hands on the keyboard and producing more books.

Jill James

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