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A Professional Writers Process...
by taramonk (taramonk)
at July 13th, 2006 (08:16 pm)
current location: Computer Desk
Soundtrack: Everlong -- Foo Fighters

...which leads to a writing ramble:

Found this short interview with Nora Roberts on my Borders newsletter, and this Q/A caught my attention:

Q: I wanted to ask you about your writing process, because your writing comes across as fluid and effortless, and it seems as though you're "channeling the muse." Is this really the case? What is your writing and revision process like?

NR: Well, first: There ain't no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time. It's not effortless. If only. Well, if it was, then everyone would do it, and where would we be then? So I work really hard to make it as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.

I'll vomit out the first draft: bare-bones, get-the-story-down. I don't edit and fiddle as I go, because I don't know what's going to happen next. Once I get the discovery draft down, then I'll go back to page one, chapter one, and then I start worrying about how it sounds, where I've made mistakes, where I've gone right, what else I have to add, where's the texture, where's the emotion. I start fixing. And then, after I've done that all the way through again, I'll go back one more time, and that's when I'm really going to worry about the language. And the rhythm, and making sure that I haven't made a mistake, that I've tied up all the loose ends reasonably. It doesn't necessarily mean everything ties up for every reader, because some want it one way and some want it another, and you just have to be true to the story, so it's all plausible at the end of the day.

Do any of you follow a similar writing process? This way makes sense to me, and I think I may try it and see where it leads. I was also surprised by the lack of mention of an outline. Of course, when you've written a million books, who needs an outline anymore?

Ms. Roberts also mentions she writes popular fiction because that's what she likes to read. Of course, she's more often labeled as a romance writer. I usually enjoy her books, though there have been a few that I couldn't even finish. (Well, I finished by skipping to the end, thus avoiding all the crap and confirming the predictable happy-ever-after.)  

Which got me thinking about what I like to read. And, well -- I like to read romance novels. And I admit it. On my recent vacation, I was talking to someone I had just met, and when she asked me what I like to read, I replied that I mostly read fluffy stuff that doesn't require too much brain work. She thought I meant chick-lit, and was looking down her nose. When I mentioned I read a Nora Roberts on the plane -- and liked it -- she was horrified!

Are romance novels a guilty pleasure, or do you freely admit to being a fan? Or, do you think they're crap? And do I have to write a romance novel, 'cuz that's what I read? I suck at the love stuff.

Any thoughts on writing processes, or romance novels?


Posted by: Ginger Snap (earthwhatwere)
Posted at: July 14th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)

I'm REAL big on outlining. I didn't used to be. I had a mentor tell me that my story was all over the place and to send her my outline. I didn't have one. God, how I tested her patience. ;)

What I've learned about outlining is that I can't write one until I know the characters. This is why I write pages and pages of background information on them--I know where they were born, their date of birth, how many siblings they have, who their parents are, where they went to school, their first job, who they've dated, who their best friend is. I know the best moment of their lives and the worst. Once I know the characters, I can write the outline. It seems like a lot of work before you even get to the story, but for me, it's a lot easier to see where my characters are going when I know where they've been.

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