Author Robin Hobb Offers Brilliant Writing Quotes

Robin Hobb, fantasy (and science fiction) writer extraordinaire, did an AMA on Reddit recently. This was one gem from the conversation:

Question: from user Livin_Right

How much time to you spend daydreaming about your stories before you put pen to paper? Do you have most plot ideas worked out in your head first, or do you start writing and let it take you where it may?

RobinHobbAMA Author

Daydreaming? That’s almost my full time occupation! But from the time I get an idea to the time when there is enough of it to say, “This will be a book and it’s time to start writing” is usually at least a year, and often much longer. Many times I’ll get a tiny gem of an idea, and I love it, but it’s not really enough to be a whole short story, let alone a book. So I set it aside and wait. And other bits of it come to me, dialogue or names or settings, and I add that to it. And Wait. And what usually happens is that I’ll be perusing the story seeds, and I’ll suddenly see that two or even three or four are all parts of the same story. When you put them together, they start striking sparks off each other, and growing. It’s wonderful. Then it’s time to write the book.

I love this comment so much. It’s just so perfect. With my first book, I had the idea a good three years before it formed itself into a nice book-sized concept, and it took 6 months to complete (even with the 50,000 words clocked during NaNoWriMo!). Just so fantastic!

Question: from user -August-

Hello and welcome back. I’ve read you will write a story without trying to form it along a certain path and just let if flow, if you will. While I enjoy this idea when reading it, seeing the characters go through good and hard times, I’m sure it could have its ups and downs on the writing side. Do you ever regret writing like this? Is there anything you would change?

RobinHobbAMA Author

I think of Story as this big river. If I can get out into the main current and then hang on for dear life, it will sweep me along and I just follow the story wherever it goes. It works wondrously well for me. Except when it doesn’t. And when that happens, when I suddenly find myself stranded in the muddy shallows with the story going nowhere, then I have to ‘lighten the raft’ so to speak, usually by discarding the last 50 or 100 pages that I’ve typed. So. Yes, there are definite hazards to trusting your Muse, but my experience has been that the rewards are greater than the risks.

This is fantastic, too. I’ve never cut out 50-100 pages of a story before (and OUCH does that sound painful!) but Robin Hobb is an excellent fantasy writer and I’m completely with her comment regarding trusting the muse. I could not have told you how my book would have ended when I began. I had a feeling, but not a certainty. It took working with the characters and the environment to formulate it into a cohesive whole.

I’m glad I discovered this AMA; it’s excited me as a writer and as a reader. I read a crush of Hobb’s Rain Wild series in middle school, but lost track of the series. I think I know what I need to pick up as my next book!

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