I just finished reading Nora Roberts’ trilogy, The Guardians:


First off, let me say that I love Nora Roberts. I particularly love her trilogies, and this one is going on my favorites list.

But although I love her stories, buy them, and read them, I do have a problem with her writing style. (She might quote JK Rowling on that, and tell me “I still have your money”, which would be funny.) I know she must write these stories very fast (or get help with them), but doesn’t she have an editor? Because she makes many mistakes that, if she were a beginning author trying to break into publishing, would not get her past the slush pile. Yeah, beginners mistakes like all the writing-about-writing books tell you not to do. For example:

  • Head-hopping. I’ve seen her head-hop between two characters within the same paragraph, never mind the same scene! When there are many characters, as with the trilogies, she may head-hop between several of them, and even toss in a dash of third person omniscient.
  • Lack of dialog tags. No, I don’t want “he said, she said” constantly. But in the middle of a long sequence of dialog, I often have to double back to see who’s talking at that moment.
  • Scenes that don’t contribute to the story. Actually, I don’t care much about this one, but it is a flaw. Many of her scenes contribute nothing to the plot or even to character development. Many of these scenes don’t include any kind of conflict. Why don’t I care? Because they are usually scenes where we’re simply spending time with the characters, and I love her characters, so I like those scenes.
  • Multiple protagonists. This is only true in the trilogies. It’s a rule, true, but I have to say that she carries it off well. Except for the head-hopping and dialog confusion, that is.
  • Anti-climaxes. This isn’t true of all her books, but of many. The major climax at the end just doesn’t give a great pay-off. But it’s happy-ever-after, so I don’t mind.
  • Uneven pacing. This is tied to the scenes that are fun but don’t contribute to the story. Listening to characters talking about each other or watching them clean house or shop can be delightful in Roberts’ hands, but at times it does make the pacing jolt along like a car with one flat tire.

Of course, I’m just jealous. This is a post of frustrated jealousy. Don’t let it make you turn away from Roberts, if you haven’t read her. And if you haven’t, then I envy you all the good stuff to read in your future.