MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR-SHELLY ELLIS
Today I am happy to put the spotlight on a fellow author and great lady who has been out here in the writing world a lot longer than I have, Ms. Shelly Ellis. Shelly was gracious enough to stop by my humble blog and share a little bit about her own writing process.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on two projects simultaneously, which is turning out to be a very interesting juggling process. I’m working on the first book in the second series that I’m writing for my publisher. It’s a follow up to my Gibbons Gold Digger series and it’s about a wealthy family. It’s set in a small, fictional town in Virginia. My editor compares it to the TV show, The Haves and the Have Nots. I’m calling it the modern, black version of Downton Abbey. My other project is a paranormal YA that I’m writing just for fun. I’m not sure if it will ever see the light of day but I’m hoping that it’ll keep my creative juices flowing.
How does my work differ from others in that genre?
That’s hard to say. I think every writer would like to believe that their work is distinct and groundbreaking, that they’re their own special little literary snowflake. But, let’s be honest, most stories that are written now have already been written. Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right when he said, “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” We’re simply rehashing the same old stories with a slight spin or with a new perspective/voice—and some of us aren’t even doing that!
But I guess if there is anything of myself that I bring to my writing (which focuses primarily on African American romance and women’s fiction) it is my quirky and sometimes dark sense of humor—it comes through a lot in my dialogue.
Why do I write what I do?
I write because I feel compelled to do it. Even if I never got published at all or published ever again, I’d be writing stories. I’ve got to get it out. I’d go crazy or become depressed if I didn’t. I write romance and women’s fiction specifically because I grew up reading those books. I grew up idolizing authors like Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, and Debbie Macomber. It was either write romance or horror novels. (I’m also a long-time Stephen King and Dean Koontz fan.) And who knows what the heck I’d put on paper if I let that dark side fly!
How does my writing process work?
My writing process has definitely evolved over the past few years. I used to be mostly a pantser, meaning I didn’t use chapter outlines. I’d have a basic overview of how the novel should go (maybe a two paragraph synopsis in my head) and work from there. I’d write chapters according to what mood I was in with no respect to the chronological order of the story. (I might write the last few chapters first, the middle chapters second, and some of the beginning chapters last. I’d add a line or two between chapters reminding me to put a scene here or there to bridge the gaps.) It was a great way for me to prevent writer’s fatigue and keep up the mood/momentum of the story so the novel wouldn’t sag in the middle, which is a continual battle as an author.
But now that I’m under contract with a publisher, and contractually obligated to come up with a more detailed synopses/chapter outlines, my pantser days are pretty much over. I have a set idea of what’s going to happen, how many chapters are required to hit word count, and what scenes will go where. I still jump around in my writing, but now instead of just draping fabric on a dress form and assembling the chapter pieces based solely on impulse and feel, I’m working from a set dress pattern that I've pre-designed. I’ll diverge from the chapter outline on occasion, but I stick to it overall.
I thought my new method would be inhibiting, but it seems to be helping, particularly because the new novel I’m working on is told from four different characters’ perspectives. Making sure each character’s storyline gets ample attention as well as paying attention to the cohesiveness of their stories overall, would be hard for me to do if I was flying by the seat of my pants.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shelly Ellis began her romance writing career when she became one of four finalists in a first-time writers contest at 19. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published more short stories, a few novels, and was chosen as a finalist for the 2012 African American Literary Award in the romance category. Shelly released the first book in her critically-acclaimed Gibbons Gold Digger series in 2013. The latest book in the series, Another Woman's Man, will be released April 29th.
When she isn't writing novels or editing and writing articles for her day job as a magazine editor, she and her husband are chasing after their 1-year-old daughter and catering to their tabby cat.