Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nora Breaks The Rules!

Once upon a time, when I was a newbie writer entering a butt-load of contests, I got this comment back on one of my manuscripts....

"Watch head-hopping! Who do you think you are? Nora Roberts?"

I was miffed. First of all, this was a snarky comment, and not 'constructive criticism.' Second of all, the paragraph receiving this comment was entirely written in one character's POV, and therefore not an example of head-hopping. However, I found the whole Nora-angle fascinating. Since I had never read a Nora Roberts book, I was curious. Who exactly was this Nora person and why was she allowed to break the rules when I wasn't?

After a weekend of pushing, pleading and prodding by several Quirky Ladies, I decided to jump on the Nora Roberts bandwagon. So far, I have inhaled Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, #1 and #2 of the Irish trilogy. Here is what I have discovered so far about Nora Roberts...

1) She changes POVs faster than Lady Gaga changes outfits at an awards ceremony. Seriously. One sentence: heroine thinking mushy thoughts about the hero. Next sentence: hero thinking some ridiculously romantic thing about the heroine. Me: Don't care, I am loving this book and want to move to Ireland.

2) Remember that rule about starting the novel with action? Nora obviously did not get that memo. These novels are started with faery lore and back story. Beautifully, emotionally written and with gorgeous description. Diagnosis: Kicks literary ass!

3) Rule #783: Must make characters likable or readers will hate your guts. Nora: Screw that! One heroine is a boring, self-doubting divorcee, one is a masculine, short tempered Irish gal, and one of the heroes is a lazy ass. Somehow Nora makes all of this work. Astonishing!

4) If you don't have a strong central conflict, your book will suck. Nora: No honey, all you need is romance.

So, here's my take on these books. Jewels of the Sun was absolutely wonderful for one simple reason. It is one of the most romantic books I've ever read. Aidan is a hunkalicious Irish hero from heaven above. The way he talks is so gorgeous and romantic, I was swooning as I read the dialogue. Swooning, people, swooning! Even though the heroine was a dud at the beginning of the story, it was sweet to see her blossom and learn to love herself. Roberts paints an incredibly lovely portrait of Ireland and the faery legends. The second book of the trilogy, Shawn's story, was not quite as good or romantic, but I still enjoyed it. My one and only less than stellar observation is that the paranormal aspect is not exactly woven into the story line, but rather plopped on top of it. This feels very much like a contemporary romance that has "paranormal" devices (ghosts, faeries, etc.) thrown in to liven it up a bit. The nuts and bolts of the stories are the relationship between the hero and heroine.

Am I on the Nora bandwagon? Not quite sure, but I am looking forward to reading the third book of the trilogy, Heart of the Sea.

These books have inspired me in more ways than one. I am amazed by her beautiful prose, gorgeous dialogue and romantic characters. I am also thinking that breaking some of the writing rules that have been drilled into my head might not be such a bad idea. Of course, I'm no Nora, as the contest judge rudely reminded me. But maybe someday....

Grade for Jewels of the Sun: A
Grade for Tears of the Moon: B+

Prepping for Book #3,