The Juliet Blog Tour: Laura Ellen Scott shares her writing process

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Juliet blog tour and hosting a guest post by author Laura Ellen Scott in which she has been kind enough to share a little about her writing process!

Meet Laura!
Meet Laura!

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to discuss my process for writing my second novel, The Juliet, which was released by Pandamoon Publishing in March 2016. The Juliet is an historical thriller about the search for a cursed emerald in Death Valley, braiding episodes from 100 years in the emerald’s history with seven days in 2005 during a record-breaking wildflower bloom in the desert. My mother is an amateur gemologist, and I’ve grown up around precious and semi precious stones all my life, so it was inevitable that I would write about one, eventually, but the book is really about desire and legend making—all that stuff that happens when people forget that an emerald is just a chunk of beryl with some chromium to make it pretty.

I know that some artists are skeptical about process post-mortems, but in the case of The Juliet, I deliberately set out to do a few things differently from the way I wrote my first book, Death Wishing, a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans. That is, process was something I was very mindful of along the way. For example, my guiding principle in writing Death Wishing was sentimental and urgent; I wanted to write about New Orleans before the next flood came. However, my guiding principle in writing The Juliet was to have fun. For me, writing a novel is a joyful privilege, and with The Juliet, I wanted to maximize that joy.

So, I decided three things.

-One, the book would be written scene-by-scene. If I found the work diving into exposition, that material would get set aside like a Thanksgiving turkey carcass to be picked at later.

-Two, I would simplify the core plot into a McGuffin type story, around which I could wrap and weave characters and timelines as I liked.

-Three, I wasn’t going to sweat point of view. I’ve long thought that utter faith to point of view is meaningful to writers and teachers, but not so important to readers, so I just let her rip. (This was liberating but actually turned out to be a huge mistake. My editor made me shore up the pov in intensive edits that broke my heart into teensy-tiny pieces. She was right of course—editors are always right. [thanks, Rachel!])

In terms of organization, I stayed in the same zone, alternating between the present and the past, inspired by Jen Michalski’s time-jumping novel, The Tide King. To my delight, the nature of the past expanded much more dramatically than I imagined it would, and the “backstory” became very intricate, tying into the present in ways that even surprised me. The most common question I’ve been asked about The Juliet has been about managing the plotlines, and while I did use a white board to keep things straight as I move along, I didn’t outline, and I didn’t know the ending until I was 50 pages away from it. I’m an instinctual writer, and I’m lucky that I’m able to recognize the potential connections among storylines so I can develop them into truly dependent entities. That means lots of looping backwards in the draft, sort of like sewing stitches. My whole family does hand crafts of one sort or another. I’m just the one who chose pages over quilt squares.

LEctito - writing photo
Keeping track of the unfolding plotlines.

By the end of the year, Pandamoon Publishing will release the fist book in my New Royal Mysteries series, called The Mean Bone in Her Body. The series is set in a college/prison town in central Ohio, where the local university has launched a crime writing program, but not without complications. Unlike Death Wishing and The Juliet, the New Royal books require that I understand a lot more about who is doing what and to whom. It’s an exciting challenge in my development as a novelist, especially since I came from an academic literary tradition where the artist doesn’t always have to answer for her choices. I prefer to have an answer, even if I choose to keep it to myself.

Laura Ellen Scott is the author of several novels including Death Wishing, a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans, The Juliet, a western about the search for a cursed emerald in Death Valley, and the New Royal Mysteries series set in a fictional college/prison town in Ohio. The first New Royal Mystery is The Mean Bone in Her Body, will be released in late 2016. Born and raised in Northern Ohio, Laura now lives in Fairfax, Virginia and teaches creative writing at George Mason University.  

Follow The Juliet blog tour!

Stop 1 Lovely Bookshelf July 11, 2016
Stop 2 (You are here!) Lectito July 12, 2016
Stop 3 A Literary Vacation July 12, 2016
Stop 4 Rainbow of Books July 13, 2016
Stop 5 Alternating Current’s The Coil July 13, 2016
Stop 6 Historical Fiction Excerpts July 14, 2016
Stop 7 The Book Wheel July 14,2016
Stop 8 Grab the Lapels July 15, 2016
Stop 9 History from a Woman’s Perspective July 15, 2016

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