Four years ago, I got the chance to attend RWA Nationals after the venue moved from Nashville to Orlando due to unfortunate flooding. To save money, I planned on staying with a friend who lived forty minutes away from the Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotel, where the conference was held. Then I discovered Marisa Cleveland, a buddy who I’d met three months earlier at my local RWA chapter meeting, had a room in the hotel all to herself. Being the Reigning Queen of Awkward Situations, I crashed her room & took the couch. Little did I know Marisa was a natural introvert & too terrified of me to say no.
That’s how a beautiful friendship was born 🙂 Now that I’m done with writing my 18 Things trilogy, I’m forcing her into another situation that seems just as counterintuitive to sharing your hotel room with a stranger. Cowriting a novel! Authors are known for being control-freak Jedi masters of our fictional universes. That’s why when I attended utopYA2014, I made sure I attended the panel with Melissa Pearl & the mom and son author duo C.A. Kunz. Here are some of my notes in case, like me, you think cowriting could be a fun, refreshing process that yields a unique story.
Pick someone who is at similar points in terms of both their craft and career & treat each other as equals.
Be honest if there’s something you don’t like. We take criticism personally, but that has to take a back burner in the interest of writing the best story possible.
Make sure you know the other person’s writing style well so the reader doesn’t feel pulled out of the story with two very different tones-different than having two distinct voices, which can work very well because that can be attributed to the characters.
If one person is waiting to hear back for next chapter, but their co-author is too busy and is left waiting when they are ready to move on with the story, it can cause friction. Make sure to set up a writing schedule & stick to it! Equal commitment & a compatible writing pace is a must. Also helpful are similar tastes. For instance, do you bond over the same books, movies, music, and celebrities (like
drool swoon-worthy Theo James)? That’s a good start.
Good idea to pick a person who has a final say in different areas, like grammar, fine-tuning of the plot, and research details. It’s like a choose your own adventure story! If you get stuck, have a bowl with worst case scenarios and pull one out & have that happen to your character.
If you are discussing something serious with the book, do it in person or Skype so your partner doesn’t misread what you’re saying. Email, text, or phone call at least once a day to ensure continuity and the development of a solid story arc, especially as you work toward the finale.
Have you ever thought about working with a partner? What do you think the pros and cons would be?
P.S. Speaking on Cons, I didn’t get the coveted tickets for the “Open At the Close” event at LeakyCon in Orlando on July 30th since they sold out in 5 minutes. If you dress up as a creepy/scary clown in your spare time, or know someone who does, please message me. I’m looking to hire one to chase a ticket holder around until they fork over their pass. Thanks for your help in this matter.
Glad you made a good friend by crashing her room. I think co-writing a book would be challenging but in a good way. Not sure who I would write one with though.
I think anyone would jump at the chance to cowrite a book with you, Head Ninja Captain 🙂
You are brave to set out on this adventure. I’ve often thought of co-authoring a book; I’m not sure who I would ask. I’m glad you found someone.
I wish I knew two scary clowns. Two tickets would be amazing!!
If I were as good as you at fantasy, then I would ask you to write one with me in a heartbeat!
🙂 I”m honored because I think you’re an amazing author. I might have to delve more into the contemporary YA side. 🙂
The best friendships start in the wierdest ways. Congrats on your co-writing decision. It does sound like fun.
As to the scary clown – it would be awesome sauce fun to dress up like that and chase the ticket guy 😉
My daughter does have a clown costume from when she needed it for a musical theatre number . . . not sure if it still fits though. Guess we’ll be seeing soon enough 😉
My ex was trying to get me to co-author some books and stories with him, and wouldn’t accept my explanations of why his ideas were ridiculous or would become quickly irrelevant. English is also his third language, and he definitely needs a top-notch editor to correct his constant stream of run-ons, misused language, misspellings, incorrect punctuation, etc. I’m not going to write some political thriller based around very current events and bound for the bargain bin in a year, or some sleazy story about humans being intimate with various primates who were genetically engineered for something or other.
Yes, similar tastes are a MUST!
Oh my goodness! That’s funny. If I would have been at the conference and have been backward and alone, I’d have been so happy to run into an extrovert like you! Excellent co-writing tips.
I would’ve totally crashed your room!!
I’ve enjoyed many coauthored books. Those are great tips. I might try it one day.
Never know if you like something until you try it, right?!
Er… so, um… hahahaa!!! Super excited for this new venture, and yes, we need to chat and set a schedule. Also, I have a release waiver for permission to inject espresso into your veins when you’re late or miss a deadline and another form for your family to sign giving me permission to kidnap you at various points when we need to get serious words on the page. 😉
LOL . . . as long as I don’t have to sign anything in blood! Ewww!
HaHa, you’re too funny, Jamie. Crashing someone’s hotel room. LOL. But if you hadn’t…
Love your tips. I haven’t written a book with anyone, but Angela Brown and I did a blog tour together. We wrote fun interactive stuff, like game shows. We’d edited each other’s books so much that we were able to write each other’s characters for the blog posts. It definitely takes someone who’s reliable and didn’t hurt that we have that same sense of fun/quirky.
I remember how fun yours and Angela’s blog tour was!!