My blog mate Rayna Vause and I wrote a novella together, and this week we’re starting on the next in the series. Along the way, we’ve discovered some tips for making a collaborative effort successful.
1. Choose you co-writer with care. Make sure the person is a good fit from a personality standpoint and that your strengths and weaknesses balance each other. For example, my borderline OCD, German nature makes me a natural proofreader. Yes, I actually care deeply about commas and sentence structure. Rayna has an incredible imagination and often takes our story beyond where I thought it could go. She’s learned to tolerate, with good humor, my constant return to sentences past. And I’ve learned to embrace any new idea she comes up with on the fly. Chances are, it’s going to make the story far better.
2. Outline the story and characters in detail before you start but be willing to discuss changes. Mutual respect is key here. We all know sometimes the story gets better or the plot needs to change as we develop and get to know our characters. Listen to your partner when she makes suggestions, even if those suggestions seem off the wall or unnecessary. Ask the important questions, like “why do you think this change will make the story better?” Because that’s the goal, right?
3. Agree on goals and deadline. Be honest and clear about your abilities. Then stick to the agreement. Make sure you hold up your end of the deal.
4. Start with a short story or novella. This gives you both an opportunity to feel out the relationship and make sure it’s working before you tackle a larger project. A short also gives you a chance to work out the bugs in your process. Who’s better at what? Do you need to do more pre-writing planning to smooth out the bumps?
5. Enjoy not writing solo. Embrace the ability to have another writer as deeply immersed in the story as you are to bounce ideas off of.
Remember, a collaboration gives you a chance to improve your writing, to see how someone else approaches those mid-story snafus. Be willing to learn from the experience.
Has anyone else attempted to write in tandem? Do you have any other suggestions to make the process run smoothly?