I’m delighted to welcome back J.L. Sheppard as my guest today!
Crisis of a Writer Who Doesn’t Plot.
As a writer relatively new to the craft of writing books, when people find out what I do they always ask me the same question. “Where do you get your ideas?” Generally, I avoid eye contact as I scramble around for a suitable answer but never is anyone satisfied with any of my responses. And that’s because I really don’t have a suitable answer.
Where do I get my ideas? It’s hard to explain. I don’t fully understand how my brain works or how I’ve managed to write several books without plotting ahead or writing a synopsis as many authors do. It doesn’t make sense especially to me. I was the student who began reports a month in advance from the due date. I live for order and I don’t care for surprises, yet this style of writing works for me. Writing is the only thing I do without a guideline. It gives me freedom in the controlled world I chose to live in.
Where do I start a book? I write paranormal romance. With romance in general, you have a hero and a heroine and they end up together. That’s where I start. Two characters who I know whatever happens throughout the book will end up together. But this doesn’t answer the question everyone is so intrigued to know. It isn’t a suitable answer, right? Yeah, no one seems to think so.
The truth is I generally let the characters lead the story. I place them in a scenario I thought of, a scene spurned from a dream, a quote, a song, anything… and what happens next depends on them. How they react, what they say or do, and that of course, hinges on who they are. What drives them as people, their inner struggles, their hopes and aspirations. Generally it works out for the best. It will turn into several pages of dialogue I hadn’t intended on writing.
My second novel, Burdened by Desire, is the second of a series. Both of the characters appeared in the first. Needless to say, when I started writing the book, I had a handle on who they are as characters. Both strong willed, stubborn and hot-headed. All I did was think of scenes that gave them both more depth, added in some action, and let the characters, Landon and Jocelyn, lead the story.
However, when I attempt to explain this concept to people, they look at me like I’ve suddenly grown another head. I automatically wonder if I’ve explained it correctly then attempt to rephrase several times until they’re looking at me like I’ve gone completely mad. I can only imagine what they’re thinking. This woman thinks fake people can lead a story? She must think they’re real! I can’t blame them, and often I find myself laughing. What else can I do?
I don’t think people who aren’t avid readers or writers can fully comprehend that characters are the life source of the book. If you hate a character, you probably won’t like the book. The best books have compelling characters who have the ability to make you feel like you’ve met them when in reality they don’t exist. That’s, above all, what I strive to do.
Burdened by Desire, Elemental Sisters II
Jocelyn, an Elemental, is stuck between the mortal and immortal worlds, yet not quite a part of either. Her power over the elements of the Earth won’t evolve until she meets her mate. Before then she’s an easy prey and a coveted possession for the Malums Inmortalis who wish to conquer the world.
Alpha werewolf, Landon, has been living with the knowledge his fated female, the one woman created for him, is just beyond his reach. For months he’s forsaken her, refusing to accept his mate because she can never grant him a much-needed heir for his nearly extinct pack.
Despite his decision Landon finds himself drawn to Jocelyn and when an attempt is made on her life, he realizes his destiny lies with her. Can they overcome the long-held prejudices of his kind and defeat their enemies in time to find what the future holds?
His heart-wrenching confession took Jocelyn by surprise. As his eyes continued to bore into hers, her heart skipped several beats. Was he being truthful? She wanted to believe he was. Maybe it was the way he stared at her, consuming her like nothing else mattered, like she was the center of his universe. She wanted to believe he was sorry and that she excited him. It would comfort her knowing he was as drawn to her as she was to him. But were the words he spoke true?
He pulled her a touch closer, his body rubbing close to her own, she felt every muscle on his chest and his heat, the warmth from his body soothing her. Her eyes settled on his lips and she imagined what would happened if he kissed her again? What would she do? She was supposed to be angry with him but the reason was beyond her grasp.
The endearment caught her off guard, and her eyes drifted to his again. She fought to catch her breath as his gaze enveloped her. If she waited any longer, his scent would once again devour her. Was he waiting for, a response? What was she supposed to say? Did he ask a question? She couldn’t remember. All she wanted now was a kiss. Just one mind blowing, gut wrenching, searing kiss.
You can find Burdened by Desire at: Amazon.com
J.L. Sheppard was born and raised in Miami, Florida where she still lives with her husband.
As a child, her greatest aspiration was to become a writer. She read often, kept a journal and wrote countless poems. She attended Florida International University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors in Communications. During her senior year, she interned at NBC Miami, WTVJ. Following the internship, she was hired and worked in the News Department for three years.
It wasn’t until 2011 that she set her heart and mind into writing her first completed novel, Demon King’s Desire, which was published in January of 2013.
Besides reading and writing, she enjoys traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.
You can find J.L. at:
5 thoughts on “Ideas, Ideas… Guest Post by J.L. Sheppard, Author of Burdened by Desire”
You’re not crazy. J.L., I write the same way. I will say that some times (OK, it was a lot in the beginning of my career), my characters lead me astray and I have to do a lot of rewriting. But you’ve done a great job of explaining the (rather unexplainable) process. Thanks.
I’m glad to know I’m not the only one!
Same here, J.L. Surprising how many of us don’t plot things out. I’m like you and enjoy the freedom of not know what comes next when I write. Your book sounds great. Best of luck.
Great interview. My first books were written the same way. No plot, I just let go. But now that I feel the need to write faster, that no longer works for me. I haven’t quite figured out what does work, but I’m working on it. lol! Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know plotting isn’t essential if the story works.