Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We Have Vays of Making You Plot

Okay, so apparently I’ve had too much coffee this morning, judging by the title(and the rambli-ness of the post), but seriously I think every writer has to plot just a tiny bit, whether they want to admit it or not (*cough* Jay *cough* :P)  I HATE to plot. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.  (Gee, do you think I hate it?) In fact, I hate it so much, I’ve changed the name “plotting” to “scheming” because I’m not really plotting, I’m scheming what horrible things I’m going to do next to my characters. (Hence the Mr. Burns picture in the beginning of this post.)

I scheme everywhere.  In the shower with those wonderful tub crayons (thank you, Liz), in the car playing chauffeur to my two hellions…um, I mean, kids,  (:P) even waiting in the doctor’s office. I even talk to the nurses about my scheming. (In fact it’s gotten so bad the nurses have stopped asking me if I have plans on hurting myself or anyone else—they already know the answer. ;)  Although, they do love to help me come up with medical scientific advances we might have 50-60 years in the future, so I’m not really all that crazy.)

Like Jay, I like the surprises that come with my writing, but I’ve come to realize that writing is MUCH easier if I have a set of guidelines (and like in Pirates of the Caribbean, the guidelines are NOT strict rules. I can veer of course anytime I or, more likely, my characters feel like it.) leading the directory of my ship.

My outlines are basically an old time maritime map with my starting location marked and an ‘X’ to mark the end, and in the middle is a picture of a sea serpent with the words, “Here be monsters” written in large scrawling letters over the top of it.  There’s also probably some islands penciled in along the way.

But, despite how barebones the “map” is, it helps guide me along my journey and helps prevent most (but not all) of those time-consuming wrong way detours that lead to concussions of the head due to me banging said appendage against my desk.

And considering the craziness of my life, that’s probably a good thing.  :P

 J.A. Souders is the author of RENEGADE a YA dystopian that takes place in an underwater utopian society, coming Fall 2012 from Tor Teen.  For more information visit her blog or website.

She also has a tendency to ramble and talk in sailor lingo when drinking copious amounts of the caffeinated drink known as coffee.


  1. LOL, I love loopy Jess! And you're welcome for the crayons. I have you to thank for finally admitting I need to plot--er, scheme. And admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

    I look at it this way: you can either plan ahead, or you can go back and fix the problems in revisions. Why not save your revision energy for the detail work rather than structural problems, right?

    - Liz

  2. Haha, Liz! Yes, I obviously agree about saving the revision energy for detail work. You're going to have to go over that sucker a TON, why not save yourself some time?

  3. Love the map metaphor. And I like "rules" as guidelines that give you direction rather than actual, well, you know, RULES! I don't do well with rules ;)

  4. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with the Best Books Blog Award. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!

    Go to and pick up your award.

  5. Like, don't get me wrong. I plot a *bit*. I'm just not clever enough to plot too far in advance. I pretty much always know where the book is going to end, I just have no idea how I'm going to get there. So we sound very similar, Jess.

    There be Dragons. (or in my case, Griffins):)

  6. I love the crayons--I might have to steal that idea and get myself some of those!