How they write, take 3 -- Nora Roberts


Written on Friday, May 29, 2009 by haleigh

Friday, May 29, 2009

For our last day of the "How they Write" series, we have the ultimate power house in writing, Ms. Nora Roberts herself. Also from the Crescent Blues e-mag. The whole interview has lots of great info on how romance publishing has changed since she started in the 1980's.

Crescent Blues: Do your characters ever surprise you by turning out very differently from who you thought they would be? Which character (or characters) surprised you the most?

Nora Roberts: My characters always surprise me. Once they've taken on a life in a book, it's wise to let them go their own ways. I can't remember ever having a character turn out precisely as I'd imagined them before I started the book. That's a good thing.

Crescent Blues: What are the differences you find in writing so many different types of books? Do you prepare for them differently? Do they require a different level of research?

Nora Roberts: I don't prepare for the actual writing any differently. Work is work. The research depends on the subject matter, not the type of book. But I have to know if this is a hardcover romantic suspense and craft the idea in that way. If it's a trilogy, what is the common thread, what binds these people together?

Crescent Blues: Where do you start when you write a book or a story? For example, do you start at the beginning and write through? Do you prefer to toy with character or plot?

Nora Roberts: I start at page one chapter one and write straight through, generally a fairly quick and loose first draft. Then I go back and do another draft from the beginning, fixing where I went off, fleshing out the characters (as I'll know them better by this point), seeing if the story holds. It'll take at least one more draft for polishing, maybe two. But I don't edit my work as I go. I like getting the story down first.

Wow, she starts over? I must say, I was surprised by this. As fast as she writes, I just assumed she only did one draft per book. Fascinating! And notice her direct contridiction to Mary Jo Putney's advice yesterday. LOL!

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  1. Jessica |

    Hmmm, so I'm like the great NR? LOL! I start over too. Okay, so I write through, but I usually look back a few pages before writing something new. When I finish, I print it up and go through the whole thing to check grammar, sentences, etc. Then I go through again for story content. Everytime is a straight shot through. Very neat.
    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Jessica |

    Uh, the very neat is not about my process. Heehee. Just about hers and how she says characters surprise her.

  3. haleigh |

    Hey Jessie! Ohh, just like Nora! That's an excellent sign :) I think that system works for a lot of people, to just keeping writing without worrying about what came before. I am constantly going back to edit and make changes, but I know that freezes up a lot of people. It's all about each of us finding a system that works for us, right?


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