Monday, September 13, 2010

From Exercise to Novel

Dang! I just read Becky’s blog, and I didn’t realize so much thought went into our novel. Sure as heck, not by me.

Hi, I’m Larry, Becky’s writing partner. When Becky sent me that first line, “I don’t want to die smelling like urine,” I took that as a challenge to my creativity. Cool! I love those writing exercises. I looked forward to seeing what kind of ridiculous dilemma she would leave for me to solve, and it was fun leaving her with a mess to make sense of. I was blissfully having fun doing ping-pong writing well up into the 200-page range when Becky went back, read through it and decided, “This is pretty good, it could be a novel.”

In my eyes it was just a bunch of gibberish that no one could follow but us. It wasn’t intended to be read.

But, she insisted!

“It’s too much work,” I whined.

“I’ll do all the typing,” she offered. Hell, she types with all ten fingers, and I don’t have enough energy to argue with a determined woman. I went back and read through it, and I have to agree that it’s not that bad. But is it fixable? I didn’t think so at first, but as we go through it, there’s not that much that needs to be fixed.

Becky was right. %#&!%$

One great thing about having a writing partner of the opposite sex is that she can help with all the woman details. I might write about a woman wearing high-water pants and she immediately knows the word I’m looking for: Capri’s. If I need a hooker-red lipstick color, she knows it. Silky feeling woman’s shirt, no problem. She’s like a walking she-saurus.

And she always catches the little things I don’t see. “And you don’t think she (the female protagonist) would get mad about her boyfriend sleeping with her best friend?” Becky might ask. “Well… she was laid up in the hospital after gallbladder surgery. What would she expect him to do? OK, fine, I’ll have him wearing a condom.”

As Becky mentioned, she’s a Type-A personality—she cares about every tiny aspect of the novel. I, on the other hand, am okay with most of her suggestions, but if I want to cut something she “loves,” she’s like a fat man fighting for the last Big Mac at closing time. We can argue for hours, but since she outnumbers me 10 typing digits to 1, she wins. If it’s something she doesn’t necessarily “love”, then she is usually open-minded.

Now that this thing is a novel instead of a writing exercise, it has to have an ending. We try to meet every two weeks to go over chapters, talk about plots and sub-plots and discuss characters. Finding a time when we can both be available can sometimes be hard, but I think it’s important at this point. Most writing teams would start meeting earlier in their novel, and I would suggest that finding a mutual time to meet should be one of the first things to discuss when thinking about working as a team. If it can’t be worked out then you should probably rethink the idea of team-writing.

Strengths and weaknesses are other things to consider when picking a writing partner. (I have no strengths and Becky has no weaknesses—perfect). If you know you are weak in one area you might look for someone strong in that area.

It’s difficult enough finding a good writing partner, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by picking someone you can’t stand, like an ex-lover or someone you owe money to. Those things just make it more difficult. But, what do I know is this: I just kinda fell into this thing, so feel free to ignore all of the above advice.

Keep writing. Bye for now.


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