Robin Kaye's Writing Process

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Thanks for having me here at Romance Junkies. When I was invited to blog, I was asked to write about my writing process, and to tell you the truth, the idea sent me into a panic. A writing process? I’m supposed to have a process? I guess I must, since I do write books and they get written in a relatively timely manner. Still, I wouldn’t call it a process but if I have one, here it is.

An idea pops into my head, sometimes while speaking with my editor and usually after she says “What’s the plan for your next book?” As you’ll see, I’m not big on planning. I think much better on my feet. I usually wing it and thank God when she smiles and likes my ideas.

I was at RWA’s National Conference when I “pitched” Breakfast in Bed and As Good as He Gets. My editor liked both, and asked for Breakfast in Bed first. That worked for me. I was just finishing up Too Hot to Handle at the time. After I got home, I wrote a synopsis as part of a proposal and sent it to my agent. Once she was happy with the proposal, my agent sent it to my editor.

Once there was a deal, I had a deadline and a four-page synopsis that started with a germ of an idea. All I needed to was expand it into a book. This is when the fun begins. I get to write.

I use Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure. It makes sense to me. Before I write, I know the Opportunity, the Change of Plans, the Point of No Return, the Major Setback, and the Climax. I might not know how I’ll get from point to point, but I always seem to figure it out so I try not to worry about it.

The first three chapters seem to take me as long to write as the next 17. I go nuts. I think every word is crap. I start it in five different places, and finally, when I think I’m going to toss the whole thing, I’ll go to a conference, listen to conference CDs, or talk to my critique partners and I’ll have an epiphany.

I keep on moving forward and work off the synopsis and turning points. While I’m writing, I learn things about my characters and sometimes what I learn changes the turning points. I adjust.

Everyday, I edit what I wrote the day before and then I move forward. The problems I don’t catch, my critique partners do. They’ll make suggestions and tell me if something reads awkwardly to them, but other than that, what I write usually stays pretty much the way it I type it in the first time.

When I go off track, it takes me a scene or two before I know it’s not working. In As Good as He Gets, the book I’m finishing up now, I went off track and tossed 2,000 words—about a day’s work. I wasn’t happy about it, but I backtracked and found a new direction.

When I get stuck, like last weekend, I brainstorm with my critique partners, my friends at Starbucks where I write, and/or sleep on it. Sometimes answers come to me right away, sometimes it takes a day or two, sometimes I get a phone call from my CP saying “I’ve got it!” That’s what happened on Monday, thank God. Have I told you how much I love my critique partners? Thanks to them, knock wood, I’ve always figured something out so I try not to worry about that either. Are you seeing a theme emerging?

I’m afraid to look at my process too closely because whatever I’m doing, it’s working. Would I like it to go faster? Yes. Would I like it to be more predictable? Sure. But there’s so much I don’t understand about how I write, I’m afraid to mess with it for fear that whatever changes I make, will have a ripple effect, and not in a good way.

I remember the day I went into a plotting workshop everyone said was not to be missed. And I’ll bet for 99% of the people in the room, it was a wonderful experience. For me, it was a nightmare. By the time the workshop was over, I was a basket case. I knew I was doing everything wrong. I looked at the graphs, squares, and pages of other notes I painstakingly copied, and my eyes glazed over. I was paralyzed.

It took me a while before I realized that I’m different. Good or bad, my brain doesn’t work the way most others seem to—my brain just gets to the destination by a different path than most. Still, it’s a mystery to me how characters and plots get into my head and end up between the pages of a book. I think when it comes to magic or miracles, it’s best not to look too closely. I don’t want to jinx it.

If you want a sneak peek at the first chapter of Breakfast in Bed, Romeo, Romeo or Too Hot to Handle, they’re on my website along with the Domestic Gods Top Ten List, reviews and a calendar of my blog tour. I’ll be giving away a copy of Breakfast in Bed to a lucky commenter with this and every blog throughout the month of January so stop by and say hi for your chance to win.

About the Author

Robin Kaye

Award-winning author Robin Kaye is a professional writer and winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award for her first novel, Romeo, Romeo. Once it was published, Romeo, Romeo won the 2008 Best Contemporary itRom (Italian Romance) Award by Romance B(u)y the Book, the 2009 HOLT Medallion for Best Romantic Comedy, and the 2009 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best Single Title. Her romantic comedies feature sexy, nurturing heroes and feisty, independent heroines. She lives with her husband and three children in Mount Airy, Maryland. For more information, please visit her  at http://www.RobinKayeWrites.com

Purchase Robin Kaye’s Books Here!

40 Responses to Robin Kaye's Writing Process

  1. Ann Yost

    Robin – I loved your blog and it is especially helpful because I have to revise (revamp/destroy/rebuild) a wip and it gave me some good ideas. I loved Romeo, Romeo and I’m sure the newer books as just as good. Lucky you to have critique partners!
    Ann Yost
    THAT VOODOO THAT YOU DO, The Wild Rose Press, December, 2009

  2. Stephanie Julian

    Sometimes, I wish I had a process but we’re all different so of course our processes are different. No one way works for everyone. As soon as we all realize that, I think the better we’ll all be. And happier! Good post, Robin. I’m always fascinated to find out how other writers write.

  3. Liz Talley

    Your process sounds a lot like mine. A gut instinct sort of thing. I, too, edit before I go on to the next scene. Use critique partners to catch things that make sense in my mind, but not the reader’s. And I, too, went to a workshop like that. I left in the middle of it certain that I could never be a real writer. Thanks for sharing your process. Makes me feel a whole lot better about how sucky I think my wip is. 🙂

  4. Judi Fennell

    Friends of mine were just discussing a snowflake way to write a book. I looked over it, and, omg – I would probably kill my characters before I ever wrote the book. There’s so much INVOLVED with building a snowflake!!!

    No thanks. I like watching the process and story unfold before me. I like discovering who the characters are. And what’s funny is, I’m not always right with the way the story should go. I had an idea and a villain for Catch of a Lifetime that TWICE turned out not to be the way to go. The story kept going in one direction and I kept steering it in another. Finally, I just let everyone (but me) have their way, and you know what? I LOVE the story.

    That villain has been shelved for another story.

    Can’t wait to read this, Robin!

  5. Walt

    Robin, I know the third book features Rich. Which of your characters gets their own story in your fourth book in the series?

  6. Cathy

    Your process clearly works for you!

    It’s funny, but I find the more I write the less I plot in advance. Like you, I know the main conflict and the major turning points of my current WIP, but the rest…? Bits and pieces simply show up. Apparently some kind of planning or plotting is going on in the deep dark places (you know, the ones we shouldn’t look at too closely 😉 .)

    Loved Romeo, Romeo, can’t wait to read another

  7. Robin Kaye

    Hi Ann~ Thanks so much, I’ve kind of been holding my breath about this blog because I thought for sure I was the only one who really didn’t have a process. *shrugs* Critique partners are so important. It might take a while to find CPs that work well together but when it works, it’s invaluable. Feel free to email me through my website if you’re interested in hooking up with a Critique Group. I know an avenue to find CPs and would be happy to share.

    Hi Steph~ Thanks for dropping by. I’m always amazed by the writers who have whole books full of graphs, charts, and character studies before they write their first word. The thought of it is exhausting to me but must work for them. I guess that’s what makes the world go round.

    Liz~ Im so glad I’m not the only cashew in the bowl. I thought I was the only one who ran out of a workshop sure that I was doing everything wrong and barely keeping myself from screaming. Oh, and just between you, me, and the doorknob, I think every book is sucky. All my emails to my CPs start with “Tell me if this sucks.” It drives them crazy.

    Hi Judi~Snowflakes? Whatever it takes I guess. Me, I put my fingers in my ears and start singing off key. Don’t you just love it when your characters have a mind of their own and take over the story? Or my favorite, when characters just appear and make you fall in love with them.

    Hi Walt~ I’m finishing up As Good as He Gets and it features Ben and Gina. I’m having a great time writing it, I just wish I would hurry up and finish it already since I’m chomping on the bit to write about that secondary character I’ve gone and fallen in love with. I just hope my editor falls in love with him too.

  8. Robin Kaye

    Hi Cathy~ I think it was Jennifer Cruise who said that the book is already written in our subconscious and all we have to do it dig it out and not screw it up. Easy Peasy–NOT! I’m still digging.

  9. Diane Garner

    Robin, it’s reassuring to know that you write without knowing EXACTLY how you’re going to get your characters from point A to point B. Don’t you love it when your characters surprise you with twists you didn’t see coming? Congrats on your new release!

  10. Kelly Fitzpatrick

    Awsome cover. Great title. Enjoy the day.

  11. Diana Cosby

    Hi Robin,
    Your writing process sounds very pantzerish. 🙂 You sit down and let the story/characters go. I’m a major plotter and probably would have loved that plotting workshop. *G* But, my two cp’s are pantzers as we compliment each other. I’d hazard a guess your cp’s are more plotters. I’m alot like you in that I know the outline, then I go. I’m so proud of you and I wish you continued success! *Hugs*
    Happy New Year!

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  12. Darynda Jones

    I do the same thing with my openings. Over and over. Rewrite after rewrite. Until I’m convinced I need to be committed.

    I also plot the living daylights out of my books. I feel lost without a detailed outline. And I mean detailed. I’m so OCD sometimes.

    Great post, Robin!

  13. Kate Dolan

    Your post was really inspiring, Robin. There is no one “system” that will work for everybody – maybe each one works only for the person who developed it. But the real message I take away from this is that the important thing is to not give up. When something isn’t working, try something else. And in your case, all the hard work adds up to award-winning stories.
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Pat

    Well, we can’t leave you lonely! And I’m with you about the whole graph, outline, plotting schtick. Doesn’t work for me. I find it stifling. However, I have had to rethink a lot of my process (which is, I admit with some chagrin, as vague as yours!) after writing a series of vignettes that passed for scenes. I’ll be taking them apart and revamping once I figure out when dh is going back in the hospital. It’ll keep me busy—very busy!

  15. Stephanie Draven

    I didn’t use to be much of a plotter, but now that I get paid for good outlines, hey, I’ve evolved! I often use Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days method.

  16. Maggie Toussaint

    I can so identity with the wonderment of critique partners. One of mine took my crappy blurb this week and turned it into pure gold. I repaid her with wordsmithing an action scene in her current chapter. It was a match made in heaven, er, cyberspace.

    Best of luck, Robiin,

    Fellow WRW member, Maggie Toussaint

  17. Valerie

    Hi,

    I’m not a writer but I am a bookaholic and read a lot. I love interacting with authors and reading about how they work, find their ideas and the processof writing….so I found this post most interesting.

    Valerie
    in Germany

  18. Carolyn Matkowsky

    Robin

    Thanks for an inspirational blog. I don’t have a writing process either. And, like you, I would go nuts if I made up charts and graphs before I even started writing. I write a detailed synopsis and go from there. But many times the story veers off. If I had to think too much about my goals, motivations and conflicts I’d be paralyzed. I know I need GMC and they’re in there, but I can’t think about it or I can’t write. Does that make sense? Good luck with your books.

  19. Robin Kaye

    Hi Diane and Happy New Year! Yes I do love it when my characters surprise me. Gina pulled a fast one a few weeks ago and now my book has sooo much more depth. It’s amazing what your characters will do and tell you if you give them free rein.

    Diana~ I should have known you were a plotter, you always seem so on top of everything and organized. Me, I’m more like a fart in the wind the only good thing about that is I cover a lot of space. Thanks for stopping by Diana, and just so you know, I love you even though you’re so well put together, organized, talented… Hugs and Happy New Year!

    Darynda – Don’t you hate the beginnings? God, they’re torture to me. As for your plotting problem, I’m kinda like the Anti-Plotter. I’ll bet your desk is neat too. But that’s okay, I like you anyway. Actually, I’m jealous of plotters. I wish I could think like that, but my brain won’t function that way. I’ve really tried.

    Hi Kate~ Thanks a lot stopping by! I’m all about never giving up. It’s important especially in this business. I’ve heard so many never-say-die stories, every time I come out of a conference I’m inspired. When it comes to process, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and if it ain’t working, try something else.

    Oh Pat, so sorry to hear about your DH. I’m sure what you have is already a fabulous book, you need to write the connecting scenes, that’s all. Hugs and smooches.

    Hi Stephanie – I thank God my editor buys mine off a short synopsis, if I needed to do an outline, I’d have to write the book first and pay someone to outline it. That’s how I used to write outlines in school. I told you my brain doesn’t work that way.

    Hi Maggie! Thanks for coming! Isn’t it amazing how great CPs are? I honestly don’t know what I’d do without mine. I love them!

    Thanks for coming by, Valerie. I’m glad you find the process of writing, or lack thereof interesting. What I’d like to know is how writers did this before there were word processors!

  20. Robin Kaye

    Carolyn~ That makes total sense to me! I’m like that too. Just thinking about GMC gives me Hives! Seriously. I find Michael Hague’s plot structure the only thing that makes sense to me and doesn’t have me searching for Benadryl! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

  21. Darynda Jones

    LOL, Robin! My desk is neat. Thanks for liking me anyway!!! It’s okay that you don’t plot. You seem to be doing just fine without one. 🙂 And the way I see it, pantsers are people too.

  22. Danielle Angeline

    Robin – you are so right on! For every writer, their “process” is different. I am encouraged that you persay don’t have a diffinitve process and you are so successful. The joy of writing comes with letting go and letting the characters take us where they need to go. The only process I can claim right now is that I wirte my last chapter first. Yes, it’s true! I feel that if I don’t have an ending in mind, it’s hard to have a beginning. Thanks so much for this blog. The Michael Hague info is new to me. I guess I’ve been hiding under a rock. Can’t wait to research it!!!

  23. Maureen

    Congratulations on the new book Robin. I enjoyed Romeo, Romeo very much so keep on doing what you’re doing.

  24. RR SMYTHE

    hi robyn! Im glad all the books are going well for you! Im looking forward to reading breakfast in bed

    ronna
    (rr smythe)

  25. Robin Kaye

    Danielle~ Thanks for your comments. Michael Hague is a Screenplay guru and a wonderful speaker. He spoke at RWA Nationals 2 years in a row, I think it was in Dallas and then again in San Francisco. It makes sense to plot the way you plot a movie so that your books could be easily transferred into a screenplay if necessary. It’s very linear and it works for me. I can share the system with you but you might be able to find it on his website http://www.screenplaymastery.com/ You can also get Michael Hague workshops on tapes. He’s fabulous! Let me know if you need more information. Just email me through my website.

    Maureen~ Thanks for stopping by and I’m so glad you enjoyed Romeo, Romeo. Too Hot to Handle is the second book in the series and is Dr. Mike and Annabelle’s story. Breakfast in Bed is the third and I’m finishing up As Good as He Gets. It should be out in May or June.

    Ronna~ Thanks for stopping by, sweetie! Let me know what you think of Breakfast in Bed. Maybe you’ll win a copy!

  26. Little Lamb Lost

    I am a reader not a writer but I really enjoyed your post. It sounds like you know how to fly by the seat of your pants.

  27. Robin Kaye

    Little Lamb Lost~ I love the moniker! Thanks for stopping by the blog and yes, I usually do fly by the seat of my pants. It makes life interesting and for me, with a short attention span and way too much to do, it keeps me coming back day after day to see what happens next. It does, however, present some problems once a book is sold and has an actual due date. I’m trying hard to come to some sort of happy medium between plotting (without giving myself hives) and pantsing. (Is that a word?) We’ll see how I do with the next book. Good luck in the give away and be sure to check my website for other blogs. I’m giving away books all month!

  28. Lisa G

    Hello Robin! Thank you for being here today. I love the cover on your book. Sometimes it’s hard to get started on a book and even harder to finish. It looks like you did a wonderful job. I can’t wait to read it. Maybe I will win one. Take care!

  29. Mariska

    Oh Robin, i really like to have the chance to lay my hands on your book ! it sounds wonderful ! since i haven’t had any of your books *g*

    anyway, every single thing in this world need a process to be GREAT 🙂

  30. Keena Kincaid

    Robin,
    I think process is as unique as fingerprints. We all have ours–and if you’re like me, the process changes slightly with each book. LOL!

    I love your titles, btw. Very catchy and the titles alone have put them on my TBR pile.

  31. Lindy

    I’m so glad you realized that your brain doesn’t have to work like everyone else’s. Write on!

    ~Lindy

  32. Robin Kaye

    Hi Lisa~ Good luck on the drawing! I hope you’ll give Breakfast in Bed a try. Good luck!

    Mariska~I do hope you enjoy the book. Good luck with the drawing.

    Keena~ Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you like the titles, two of the three are mine–Too hot to Handle I can’t take credit for. Good luck with the give away.

    Lindy~ I’m just glad my brain doesn’t have to work like everyone else’s to write.

  33. Linda Henderson

    I enjoyed reading about your writing process. I always find it amazing how writers come up with their ideas and then how they interpret them in their books. I would love to read your book.

  34. Robin Kaye

    Hi Linda~

    Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you think of Breakfast in Bed and good luck in the drawing.

  35. Terri

    Hi Robin,

    Great post and I really enjoyed reading it!

    Love the pics and thanks for a chance to win a copy of your newest release!

  36. Robin Kaye

    Terri~ My pleasure! Good luck with the contest!

  37. Diana Smith

    Hey Robin, I loved your book Too Hot To Handle, so had to get the new one Breakfast in Bed, which I got today. I am sure it will be as entertaining as the first one. thanks for coming to the blog and telling us a little about your procedures. However you do them just keep them coming. Diana

  38. Robin Kaye

    Thanks, Diana! I’m so glad you liked Too Hot to Handle. You might want to pick up Romeo, Romeo too if you haven’t read that yet. As Good as He Gets should be out in May or June (I haven’t received a release date yet but it’s coming!)

  39. Nancy Alexander

    Oh Robin, this was the best of the three in the series. It was really interesting how you described the writing process you go through and different than other authors. I’m always anticipating your next book. You got me hooked. Thank you.

  40. Robin Kaye

    Nancy~

    I’m so glad you liked it! I’m finishing up with the next book, it’s Ben and Gina’s. I’m not sure about the release date but it will be between June and January.

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