“Pantsters” Can Keep Notes — It’s Allowed ~~ John 3:16 Blog Hop

This blog article, “Pantsters” Can Keep Notes–It’s Allowed is part of the John 3:16 Marketing Network Blog Hop from May 7 to May 14. I am giving away a “pdf” copy of both of my novels BURNING HEARTS and GOODBYE to the two best comments left below this article. Don’t forget to leave your email address if you want to win a copy of my novels. I will have an independent party chose the winners..

“Pantsters” Can Keep Notes — It’s Allowed

I’m a pantster…well mostly I’m a pantster. I do keep a running time-line. In my computer files I call it a “plotline.” This is not an outline. As a punster, I’d rather jump off the roof than write an outline. However, after I write a scene or a chapter, I add it to my time-line.

My time-line is quite detailed. It not only tells me what happened in that particular scene or chapter, I’ll also add small details I might want to refer to later. This keeps me from having to read the entire chapter if I want to recall a certain point. For example, my heroine might confide to a subordinate character that she flunked out of college. I’d add that detail to my time-line as a point of reference for when I write a later scene with those two characters.

I write romantic thrillers and I like to keep my reader from figuring out who the killer is until the very end when I reveal the identity. That means leaving plausible clues for a wide variety of red herrings. Each of these clues has to be added to my time-line so that I don’t write something in a later chapter that contracts my “planted clues.” I wish I could give you an example from the second book in my Sanctuary Point series, GOODBYE NOEL, but that would give away too much, and then I’d have to kill you.

As a pantster, I’m always asking the main characters and/or myself, what comes next? What would they logically do next? In this situation what would happen? As a pantster, an outline is certainly verboten! But I’ve found a clever way to get around that. I write a series of bulletins of possible, plausible next scenarios.

  • Have to have a funeral for the murder victim, killer attends services
  • Heroine thinks hero has lied, drives away even though a storm is approaching
  • Hero has to apply for a job if he intends to keep his apartment

I also like to ask, what would my character never in a million years ever be caught doing? I often brainstorm, sky’s-the-limit and, make a list of five things my heroine/hero would not do. Some of the items on the list get pretty wild. Then I pick the most plausible one for my story and put him/her in that situation. Of course, I might have to tweak  it to make it fit my storyline.

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?


The year is 1947. The bodies keep piling up. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies. Amazon (Including Kindle).


Here’s a complete list of blog hop participants with links to their blogs. Happy blog hopping…

Blog Hop Participants:

  1. Lorilyn Roberts (John 3:16 Blog) – http://john316mn.blogspot.com/
  2. Lynn Dove – Word Salt (Host blog) – http://wordsalt.wordpress.com/
  3. Laura J. Davis – http://interviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/
  4. Paulette Harper – http://www.pauletteharperjohnson.blogspot.com/
  5. Carol A. Brown – http://connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com/
  6. April Gardner – http://www.aprilwgardner.com/
  7. Sue Russell – http://www.suerussellsblog.blogspot.com/
  8. Thomas Blubaugh – http://tomblubaugh.net/
  9. Susan F. Craft – http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com/
  10. Heather Bixler – http://heatherbixler.com/
  11. Joy Hannabass – http://splashesofjoy.wordpress.com/
  12. Deborah Bateman – http://www.DeborahHBateman.com
  13. Kimberley Payne – http://www.fitforfaith.blogspot.com/
  14. Rose McCauley – http://www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com
  15. Lisa Lickel – http://livingourfaithoutloud.blogspot.com/
  16. Alice J. Wisler – http://www.alicewisler.blogspot.com/
  17. Amanda Stephan – http://www.thepriceoftrust.com/
  18. Saundra Dalton – http://gracetolivefree.blogspot.com/
  19. Tracy Krauss – http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/
  20. Ashley Wintters – http://ashleyschristianbookreviews.blogspot.com/
  21. Deborah McCarragher – http://www.godmissionpossible.blogspot.com/
  22. Lorilyn Roberts – http://lorilynroberts.blogspot.com/
  23. Anita Estes – http://anita-thoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.com/
  24. Martin Roth – http://www.military-orders.com
  25. Kenneth Winters – http://www.lostcrownofcolonnade.com/
  26. Eddie Snipes – http://www.eddiesnipes.com/
  27. Diane Tatum – http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/
  28. Janalyn Voigt – http://janalynvoigt.com/
  29. Alberta Sequeira – http://www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com/
  30. Tammy Hill – http://tammyhillbooks.blogspot.com/p/blog-hop.html
  31. Marcia Laycock – http://www.writer-lee.blogspot.com/
  32. Nike Chillemi – https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/
  33. Elaine Marie Cooper – http://wp.me/PVo1a-1vM
  34. Sidney W. Frost – http://christianbookmobile.blogspot.ca/2012/05/welcome-to-john-316-giveaway-blog-hop.html
  35. Jairus B. King – http://ministerjking.blogspot.com
  36. Bill Burt – http://kotbooks.blogspot.com/
  37. Kathy Eberly – http://authorkathyeberly.blogspot.com/
  38. Bob Saffrin – http://bobsaffrin.com/
  39. Julie Saffrin – http://juliesaffrin.com/2012/05/08/heres-how-to-possibly-win-a-kindle-and-autographed-copy-of-blessback/
  40. Theresa Franklin – http://theresa-lifesjourney.blogspot.com/
  41. Ray Lincoln – http://blog.raywlincoln.com/
  42. Lilly Maytree – http://www.lillymaytree.blogspot.com/
  43. Yvonne Pat Wright – http://www.spicetoeternity.co.uk/1/post/2012/05/come-blog-hopping-with-john-316-marketing-network-members-for-gifts-and-prizes.html
  44. Pauline Creeden – http://fatfreefaith.blogspot.com/
  45. Katherine Harms – http://livingontilt.wordpress.com
  46. Brenda Wood – http://heartfeltdevotionals.wordpress.com/
  47. Deborah Malone – http://deborahsbutterflyjourney.blogspot.com/
  48. Melissa Main – http://www.mainwriters.com/
  49. Kevin Main – http://mainchristianbooks.com/
  50. Sandy Humphrey – http://www.kidscandoit.com/blog/
  51. Felice Gerwitz – http://www.writingandpublishingblog.com/
  52. Hallee Bridgeman – http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee
  53. Lisa Mills – http://www.authorlisamills.com/blog/

62 thoughts on ““Pantsters” Can Keep Notes — It’s Allowed ~~ John 3:16 Blog Hop

  1. I once saw an “Outline” for one of the Harry Potter novels. It was so incredibly accurate and JK Rowling didn’t deviate. I wonder now if she may have made a “Timeline” like you have – added to it as she went. It makes more sense to me!

    Thanks for the great article and for participating in the Blog Hop!
    I’d love to win – hosannahighest(at)hotmail(dot)com ~Pauline


    1. Pauline, The Harry Potter novels have so many details in setting, clothing, etc. I can imagine J.K. Rowlings would need an extensive outline or timeline. I prefer the timeline because it records what’s been written. As I noted I use a kind of detailed synopsis as my outline, which I change at will. My characters are allowed to write themselves. In fact, one of my characters changed the book order of my series. Perilous Shadows which is coming out in July was supposed to be book #2. However, my hero, Argus Nye rebelled. He said he couldn’t possibly fall in love so soon after the murder of Ada, his true love, in book #1. He was a secondary character in the first novel. So, I moved Perilous Shadows to book #3 and wrote a Christmas murder mystery, Goodbye Noel, as book #2. This particular series also happens to be following the calendar.


  2. I really liked your post. I find it very difficult to write with an outline and a lot of notes. I appreciate what you said. I have never used a timeline and do have to go back often to remember some detail. Thank you for your help. As an unpublished author I need all the help I can get. Thank you for being a part of the blog hop. God bless you.

    Glenda Parker


    1. Glenda, A timeline saves time. Period. I also keep detailed biographical notes on each novel. In there I not what the character wore. Clothes Worn: red pillbox hat, single strand of pearls (Grace Church, Sunday). Something like that. These two save me lots of time. I’ll not the model of washing machine a mom has. In Burning Hearts Mrs. Brogna has a Maytag, but in my new one Grams has a Maytag. They both use the same appliance repair man. Well so far there’s only one appliance repairman in the village.

      If you’re a member of ACFW, why not join Novel Track or their critique groups. Both of those are wonderful.


  3. Nike, just sending some love your way and to thank you for being one of the blog hop hosts this week. Blessings to you!


  4. Since I bought and paid for both of your novels already, I don’t need to be entered to win. 🙂 (Money well spent, I might add!) I liked the insight into your process. is the droopy diaper symbolic of how you feel after one of your writing sessions?


  5. Hi Nike— I’ve already bought your books too– So don’t enter me in the contest—Someone is going to really enjoy them!!! God bless you and your writing!


  6. Crystal

    Thank you for participating in the blog hop and giving all of us the opportunity to win and discover new authors! Your books sound great, and even if I don’t win, I plan to read them! 🙂


  7. Pansters Unite! It’s definitely more FUN to be a SOTP writer! (actually I drive and sew that way too. . . .! SCARY!) Just as much fun as it is to hop from blog to blog (actually more fun to be writing personally! LOL!) I would love to read your work Nike! silygoos at gmail dot com.


    1. Susan,

      SOTP driver…oh, boy!!! That’s how the heroine drives in my contemp which will come out this year. Scary is right. LOL

      Glad to get to know another SOTP writer. 🙂


    1. Diane,

      Jenifer Renieri did the covers for both my novels. She’s waaaaay talented and is the Artistic Director at Desert Breeze Publishing. Way to go Jen!!!


  8. Wow, that was close! I was all set to whip out a comment based on your little picture there–that combined with the word “pantster.” You know, a hilarious story of what happened in the “pants” and then what happened after that…but then I had this nudge to read the whole post! Whew!

    Good to know someone else’s writing process is similar to mine. But I think you are much more disciplined with your time line than I am. I’ve always done academic writing–love those outlines! Then the Lord plunged me into writing for Him…it must use a different part of the brain. It drives my left-brain crazy.


    1. Carol,

      I would’ve loved a comment about a little present in the pants. My sense of humor couldn’t resist putting up the diaper. LOL

      I think fiction does originate in the right brain, but if you don’t use the left to disciple the process it can turn out a lot sloppier than you’d intened…or speaking for myslef, actually, than I intended.


  9. I’m thankful that you’re committed to helping missing children. The information on your blog was very informative. I’m a member of the John 316 Network and I’m dropping by to say thank you for participating in such a creative way.
    Melissa Main


    1. Oh yes, I am committed to finding missing children. I must point out however, that THE KEVLAR HEART is not my story, but that of Janice Cantore a former Long Beach, CA cop turned author.


    2. Melissa, My daughters chose you to receive GOODBYE NOEL in pdf form because of your concern for abducted and missing children. I hope you enjoy reading the novel. It has as a sub-theme the subject of orphaned children in the 1940s.


  10. Hi Nike,
    I’ve totally confused myself. LOL I started at the top then started at the bottom and now I can’t remember who i’ve visited and left a comment. so please forgive me if I leave two. Does that give me two chances to win?
    I’m starting from the bottom tonight and hopping around to say “Hello.” It’s nice to meet you and see your blog. I’m interested in reading your books. Stop by my blog at http://www.deborahsbutterflyjourney.blogspot.com and leave a comment to win a copy of my book “Death in Dahlonega.”

    Deborah M.
    debbiejeanm at gmail dot com


    1. Deborah, You’re always welcome no matter how many times you visit.

      I’m thrilled to meet you as well. Isn’t this blog hop something to behold. Everyone hopping all over the place.


  11. I’m getting to the point where I need a timeline to keep up with all these comments! Oh, and I got the pansters thing all wrong. I thought it was a last ditch place to make a note when no paper could be found– “come here junior, mommy’s got to make a quick note for her book”.

    I hope your books do well!


  12. ooo red herrings – No you don’t want to be contradicting any planted clues! good thinking Sherlock ! and since giving us actual examples would give away waaay too much, I certainly wouldn’t be for your next move! Nope.
    Def NOT wanting you to have to kill any of us doting readers!
    Then we’d know for sure , pantster or puntster, you’d surely have Lost The Plot! 😉

    Thx for the giveaway generosity! looking fwd to some great reading 😉 !
    faithhopecherrytea at *gmail.* com


    1. You’ve given me something to think about. I’ve never thought of bumping off a reader.

      I’ve threatened my family and friends that they’d better not annoy me or I’d put them in a novel and knock them off.

      But readers…now that you mention it…that’s a thought too. LOL

      Just kidding. I LOVE my readers. 🙂 🙂


  13. Joanna Walker

    All I can say is this: you have a story (or two) to tell, and no doubt God has given you a gift of storytelling, or maybe just that of writing and being able to put to word your thought, whether it be a real life experience or something imagined/created….a thought given by the Creator. 🙂


    1. Joanna, Thank you so much for your kind words. I know indeed that I have a few stories to tell and I pray that I do the Lord justice and honor Him always.


  14. As a pantser myself, I love the way you’ve made it possible to let your characters take you where they want to go without leaving too many loose ends in the story. Rather than become a plotter, I might just have to take your advice for my own stories.

    Thanks, as well, for participating in the blog hop.

    Have a great week.



  15. Fiction writing is an interesting process. The great writers whose work has lasted throughout decades and centuries developed their characters according to the four temperaments. By doing so, their actions are so believable to the reader that it gives credibility to the story no matter what the plot. I’ll be interested to see how you develop your characters.


  16. mediaangels

    Stopping by to say hello and check out your blog! I admire your ability to write thrillers. I write non-fiction and fiction (tweens mystery adventure). Glad to meet you and hope to see you in other venues online.


  17. Ok I am one that judges a book by its cover, and I’m usually pretty good at it. Maybe since I am a book reviewer and read tons of books? And saying this, your books just have to be awesome Nike. I haven’t read any of them yet, but I just added you to my author book list.
    Hoping by last minute to say Hi!


  18. I have a panel of impartial judges who will be picking my two winners. These “judges” are my daughters (14 yrs and 18 yrs). They are deliberating now and will let me know shortly. Then I will let the winners know.


  19. Sharon who is faithhopeandcherrytea was picked by my daughters to receive a pdf copy of BURNING HEARTS. They thought it was hysterically funny that Sharon proposed I bump of readers in one of my novels.

    I actually thought it was a novel idea.


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