Saturday, September 11, 2010

Co-Authors: Challenge or Benefit?

Writing a novel is a challenge. So what about writing a novel with a partner? Bigger challenge? I suspect that depends on the people involved.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog—our method of co-writing a novel and how our partnership works. Folks, meet Larry. He’s the one showing his good side in the photo there to the left.

Writing a novel alone amounts to long hours of sitting in front of a computer bouncing ideas off whichever cat happens to be lying on the keyboard at the time.

Now I’m writing with a partner which is far more entertaining. And challenging.
Let me begin at the beginning. Here’s how the Opposing Farces joint venture began—during a conversation with a friend about nursing homes. She said, “I don’t want to die smelling like urine.”

I replied, “What a great first line for a novel!”

Within minutes, I shot off an e-mail to Larry, one of the funniest writers I know. It went: “Hey! Here’s the first line of the story! You write the next part, and send it back to me!”

So he wrote a paragraph or two, then sent it back to me and I wrote on it, then sent it back to him. Now, about 200 pages later, we’re still going.

The benefits – I’ve already alluded to the benefits of a writing partner, and here are more that pertain specifically to our mad method.

• Writer’s block avoidance: When I hit a wall, I shoot it off to Larry. “Your turn!”

• Starting in the middle: We each leave the other with a cliff hanger, in the middle of the action, or at a writer’s block. Picking up a scene or chapter in the middle is much easier to write than starting from scratch.

• Brainstorming: Having somebody closely enough involved with the characters to brainstorm past plot challenges is valuable beyond belief.

• Outline avoidance: Now, about ¾ through the book, we’ve begun plotting. The rest of the book was pretty much not even discussed beyond, “What you wrote won't work, because in Chapter 3…” types of conversations.

The Challenges – Did I lead you to believe there are no challenges? Of course there are, and in good conscience, I need to list those too.

• Time to meet: We both have families and full-time jobs. We meet about every two weeks in person to go over chapters, and e-mail ideas and questions in between times.

• Creative differences: Of course this is going to happen. I try to keep an open mind about storylines and ideas, but being a Type A personality doesn’t always make that easy. Fortunately, Larry is a Type B. Does he always give in? Nope. That’s the challenge. Do I give in to him? That’s a blog for another time.

• Disagreeing with logic and grace: Yes, it needs to be logical for us - cause and effect drive our story and our characters. When I disagree with something, I need to think about why I’m disagreeing. Is his point logical? How would this help the story? And then on occasion, I set pride aside and go with what’s best for our characters.

So there you have it. Welcome to our blog. Larry and I will both contribute commentary, so stop by anytime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You guys are so hilarious!