I was reading through my page on being my husband’s co-author, and realized the genesis of this book/series began ten years ago. I suppose that’s a decent length of time to create a world as complex as ours is. (We even have a private Wiki so we can keep track of all the rules while writing!)
I’ve written a lot of books since 1993 when my first one was published (reissued digitally in 2011), only having completed one other previously which will forever remain under my bed. (Actually, the only copy I had was on a 5 1/4″ floppy disk, which I’ve lost sometime in the last four years.) And except for the input from critique group members in the early years, and the input of editors and agents since, I’ve written them on my own. So writing with a co-author was a new experience for me. (Yes, we’re still married!)
Here are a few things I learned while writing with a partner:
- Compromise is king. He gives. I give. It works. And the more we compromise, the easier it is, and the better the book/world/series becomes.
- There are storytellers, and there are writers. He is the first. I am the second. He’s the idea man. I’m the word woman. Yes, the concept is ours, and we work out the world elements together, but he is the visionary and writes most of the initial draft. I just plain don’t think to create on that scale, so I come behind and clean up, fleshing out and adding flavor.
- Margaritas in the spa make for the perfect brainstorming environment. Though sometimes it’s just the water and the pool with no alcohol at all.
- As with anything in writing, pick your battles. There have been some pieces I don’t love but mean a lot to him, and vice versa. As long as nothing messes with the story world or plot logic or basic grammar… see: compromise is king.
- Egos have no place in co-authorship.
- The above said, it’s very difficult when you (me) have an established voice and your co-writer (him) is working to find his. Blending styles definitely requires a lot of patience, as well as the ability to move beyond arguments (of which we had a LOT) for the good of the story.
Truly, this project has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in years. He has the enthusiasm of a new author, something I lost a long time ago, heh, and he hasn’t been taught any of the rules that need to be broken for a story to come alive. He just runs wild, and that’s something I need to do!
In the end, the book, and perhaps more importantly, the world, came together beautifully. Better than either of us ever imagined it would. There are layers and layers and every question about the politics or the society I ever (as a nitpicking querying editor) asked him (as the creator) had an answer.
One fun thing: It was super weird to write together in Google Docs at the same time and from different computers, and watch words appear and disappear as we tweaked and composed and edited each other’s work. Not sure I want to do that all the time, but when trying to refine a particular section, it was better than sitting together and talking it through.