How I Began Plotting. (I blame Allie Brennan)

I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a project this much, this early in the writing process.


Technically, Allie and me have been working on this book for several months. I think last fall or last winter I told her I wanted to do a twisted, wicked, version of Little Red Riding Hood, and we chatted about a few different ways that could be done.

And then, back in January, she sent me this amazing idea for Fairwoods Academy.

I may have squealed a little. Or a lot.

(We write under the name AJ Brooks – you can find that site here)

Since that time we’ve talked about:

– Which tense would suit the style of the story best.

– Whose POV should we be in? Which two? More? One?

– How does our world work?

– What’s the backstory of both the characters and the setting/world?

– What kind of twist do we want in book #1, #2, #3?

– What information comes out about each character in book #1, #2, #3…

– What information do we need right away? What can wait? What do we want to hold onto until the very end…?

– How many pretties will Allie send me before we’re done? (hopefully LOTS)


I have never done so much world building before, and not because I’ve never built a world this complicated (though, that may be part of it) but we both feel like this story is big. The idea is big. We want to do our characters justice. We want to do the story justice. And by doing this, I’ve fallen in love with the people. I ache for them over things I know we’re going to do to them in book #1, and in book #2, and in book #3… Because as authors, we create people we love, and then we torture them.

I guess I just wanted to share a new experience for me. I’ve gone from being a die-hard pantser, to someone who now writes pages and pages of character study, plot points and twists – even though I don’t always follow them. And not just in this project as AJ Brooks, but I’ve started this process for my next two solo projects as well.

Before I write more than a thousand words, I’ve ached with my character(s), I’ve been excited with them, I’ve let them take over my thoughts while I drive and run and bike and fold laundry…


This is something new I’ve tried, and I have to say I’m hooked.

What have you tried lately?

or what do you like to do before you start writing?

~ Jolene




7 thoughts on “How I Began Plotting. (I blame Allie Brennan)

  1. I CAN NOT write a story without structure now. It’s just not possible anymore. Sme stories demand a complete chapter outline before writing, some I plot ahead so many chapters but there’s always something there because I suck as a pantser.

    1. I feel like I USED to be a pretty good pantser, but what I’m learning is that there is SO MUCH LESS EDITING when I actually outline a bit… Amazing how things changed for me.

      On Sun, Jun 15, 2014 at 7:51 PM, YA author Jolene Perry wrote:


    1. ME TOO!!!!! I was all sad today over Cora, lol. And then the new stuff that we might use for the Bruin bros… JUST SAD lol.

      On Sun, Jun 15, 2014 at 7:57 PM, YA author Jolene Perry wrote:


  2. I’m transitioning from pantser to plotter. I haven’t started anything new since this transformation took place, but I’m very curious to see how the next projects will go if they’re plotted start to finish.

    Love the wicked, twisted Little Red Riding Hood concept!

    1. We’re having a lot of fun with the project 🙂 We have definitely left room for wiggling or shifting but when you’re working with someone else, there’s even more incentive to stay on track 😉

      Sent from my iPhone


  3. I really enjoyed how you explained your process with this one. BTW – this sounds awesomely wicked!

    Planning is a must for me, now. I tend to write complicated worlds. I’ve tried to simplify, but that just doesn’t work for me. Guess I’m a glutton for my own punishment. lol But truly, when creating complex worlds, mapping at least some of it out will negate headaches before they even start.

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