Blaming Mom or Why Did I Even Write an Outline?

Yeah, so as you might know, I’m working on the last book in my series. There was so much that needed done in as few drafts as possible, that I spent two or three days sorting everything out and making an outline. It wasn’t a super specific outline, more like:

Go to such a place. Need to talk to so-and-so about what’s-and-all. Such and such needs to happen. Such info needs imparted for X reason. Go to another place.

You can see it’s pretty loose – but my characters still – STILL – cannot stick to it. Someone who was supposed to live – who was in fact integral for the ending – got themselves killed, someone who was supposed to die skipped out on it and are still trucking along, which has had a big impact future books (unless I manage to kill them later, which I doubt). An event that was supposed to come AFTER the final battle has already happened (and taken two chapters of aftermath that it wasn’t supposed to). They screwed up and left where they were supposed to be and are now in a completely different state than they were supposed to be in. People who were not supposed to show up until after certain conversations have appeared before those conversations have taken place. A confrontation scene vanished in the dust, and now the big scene that was supposed to come immediately following the last big battle has been ruined. They’ve barely stuck to anything at all!

This leads me to question why I even bothered outlining at all – and reminds me why I don’t normally do it – because my characters are bad, bad, bad and won’t follow directions!

I really shouldn’t blame them, though. I should blame my mom. Follow me here. When I was a little kid, my mom would tuck us in at night, and when she did she would “play teddies”, which was when she would talk our favorite stuffed animals. They would talk about their day, what they’d done, and what we were going to do after mom left and we went to teddy town. It wasn’t just at night, though. Sometimes she’d talk them in the daytime, too. Each stuffed animal – or teddy as they got called no matter what animal they were – had a distinct personality. Booy was naughty; he read comic books, carried a sling shot, skipped doing his homework, and got into harmless mischief. Clowny was the epitome of sweet; he never had a mean word, and only got angry once when someone picked on his friend and fellow clown Fatty. Doggie was Booy’s best friend and a budding chef. He was more serious than Booy, and tried to keep him out of trouble most of the time, unless it involved their favorite comic hero, Captain Teddy, and then he would skip off to conventions or movies. Annie was a Lucy van Pelt knock off, who spent quality time punching her little brother Andy for being bad and having tea parties with the other girls. I could go on (we had a huge cast), but you get the idea.

What does this have to do with my characters? I’m getting there. As we got a little bit older, part of the teddy game involved us  talking the teddies – or in my case talking for them. I couldn’t do the voices, so instead I would just tell my mother what they said to me, like a third party narrator. But in order to tell her what they said, what they did, I had to understand each one’s personality. Annie would never do or say the things Booy would, just as Clownie would never do what Booy or Doggie would.

Thanks to that little game, I learned as a toddler how to make those characters into real people – as real as you or me. And they’re still real to me. Go on. Ask me what Booy did today (He skipped his chores and hid out reading his newest comic books and eating cookies), or what Clowny said about what he did (he looked sad and told Booy that when he skipped out it made extra work for others, which made Booy feel bad, so he tried to make up for it by offering Clowny cookies he’d had in his pocket all day – they’re okay so long as you pick the lint off). See?

The trouble is ,that magic wand of realness gets waved over a lot of my characters, including my vampires, and being real they’re convinced that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, with no say from me, just as Booy didn’t ask me before skipping his turn at dusting. And since they feel empowered, they feel like they can ignore my neat outline and run amok, even when I yell at them to stop.

*sigh* Just blame my mom.

Have a teddy town kinda day!

Jo 🙂




About Joleene Naylor

An independent author, freelance artist, and photographer for fun who loves anime, music, and writing. Check out my vampire series Amaranthine at or drop me a line at

5 responses to “Blaming Mom or Why Did I Even Write an Outline?”

  1. Kay Kauffman says :

    That is a fantastic way to encourage kids’ imaginations! Wish I’d thought of that!

  2. Tricia Drammeh says :

    Moms are always to blame. *sigh* I hate it when characters don’t behave. Mine do the same thing. They pick fights and have tantrums. They’re like unruly children. As their creator (mother), you would think they would listen to me, but they never do.

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