Reader’s Companion

See images, inspiration, and notes from Jude Deveraux’s writing binders.


started using the binders, because everything was falling onto the floor. If my people are in a house for more than one scene, then I need a floorplan of that house. I get them from Savills estate agency in England or ePlans. When they drive around a town I’ve made up, I have to make a map.

I make charts for every book. One chart is of names put in ABC boxes so I don’t start too many names with the same letters. It also helps me remember last names. I have a timeline chart of dates: birth, death, when people met, etc. I have a calendar that follows the scenes of the book. I have plot charts of who did what and why.

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If my idea for the book came from something that happened in real life, I print out pages about the happening.

I try to find photos of what my main characters look like online, and I download them. It’s easier to describe a character while looking at a picture than from memory. And photos keep me from changing hair and eye color.

I have photos of objects mentioned in the book.

And I have outlines. Before I can write a novel, I need to know the background of the characters. Parents, childhood, schooling. Were they a loner or popular? Big family or small?  What about previous loves? I make one of these for each of the main characters.

I outline the plot as far as I can get. Once I get into a book, the characters often change the plot, but I need to know what leads up to the beginning.

These outlines often add up to 20,000 words.

Before I start a book, I have a lot of pages. I tried putting them in folders, then in plastic file pockets. But they were too big and pages fell all around me. I finally started putting them inside half-sheet size binders and that has worked well. When I write, I can easily flip the pages and see how old someone was in a certain year or what day of the week it is or the name of a road.

And also, I send copies of everything to my editor to turn over to the copyeditor. In my many years of writing, it’s my experience that no matter what date you put in a book, the copyeditor will tell you that it’s wrong. My charts prove that I’m right. And the art director loves to see the photos! [/read]