Writing Weirdly – When You aren’t exactly a plotser or a pantser

Writing Weirdly

While I was at Vermont College my first semester, one of the teachers, Alison McGhee, mentioned off-handedly that when she wrote one of her many brilliant, amazing books she wrote it all in a rush, just page after page. She didn’t write it with an eye for structure. She didn’t write it with a specific linear plot in mind. She wrote it looking for emotion and heart and depth.

I told my then-editor at Flux, Andrew Karre (who is super cool), about this and he dubbed it: THE ALISON MCGHEE METHOD. He also dubbed it: SEXY.


Since all my life I have secretly (okay… not so secretly wanted to be less cuddly and more sexy) I immediately told him that this was how I wrote LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE.

He squeed in a masculine way.

I had suddenly become sexy. Finally. After how many years?

So Many Years

Anyway, on her website, Alison McGhee writes, “As a writer, what I like best is to sit by myself in a room, spinning out words and sentences and paragraphs and stories. No music. No telephone. Nothing but the silent light coming through the window and the people taking shape in my noisy mind. Writing is my only church.”

That’s an interesting quote when you think about the method.

The method is writing. Just writing at first. Writing and writing and writing some more. And while you are writing, you are not worrying about plot as a device to keep you moving, but instead worrying about going into the soul of your character, going deep into that absolute place where your character’s identity is, and rushing inside it, holding it up and becoming one with it.

The thing is you don’t have to be a plotter or a pantser. You just have to be a writer.

That method is not how I always write, but it’s really how I wrote my first two published books: TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND and LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE.

How is it different?

It instinctively adds more layers of image and emotion to your work.

Things like theme resonate a lot.

Consistency errors pop up like crazy and you need people with super sharp eyes to catch them.

It makes the tension of the story (the compulsion to keep reading) not something that’s in the plot but something that’s in the character.



My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

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On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.


I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic


You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy


Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. ImageImage

31702754 copy

Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

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