Saturday, August 19, 2006

So Janelle and I decided to co-author.

Seemed like a simple enough venture when we started out. Barbour announced their new mystery line and it seemed the perfect opportunity. But when the contract was signed, the real work of submitting a polished manuscript began.

For anyone considering co-authoring, I would caution you to choose your partner carefully. How well do you know the other person? How familiar are you with his or her work? Besides being co-authors, Janelle Mowery and I have been critique partners and friends for almost five years. She knows my work inside and out, as I do hers. Our styles are similar. We hold many of the same values and beliefs, which is vital when writing inspirationals. All of this will combine to either make or break a duo, no matter how dynamic they are.

Honesty is also important. Janelle and I have always been open with one another, speaking the truth in love when something works in a manuscript and when it doesn’t. This gave us a good foundation for developing a deeper working relationship, especially since we were planning for an extended term.

Long before the actual writing, we began plotting the story via telephone and emails. Communication is key, so be sure you correspond often and in length with your co-author. This will help you avoid troubling issues when the story takes an unexpected turn.

Once we came up with a good premise, timeline, and a detailed synopsis, we took time out to find headshots of our characters so that we could both visualize them clearly. THEN we began writing. Even with the advance prep work, this was no easy task. We determined to each take a POV character, but we both had very clear ideas of what the other’s character would be like, which meant a lot of issues had be worked out before and during the writing process. Once again, knowing your partner is crucial so that disagreements can be resolved calmly through compromise.

And that was just chapter one. :-)

The first major hurdles behind us, Janelle and I quickly got into the story. Over the next few weeks, we took turns writing and submitting chapters, sending them back and forth, editing and critiquing each other until we were both satisfied. Did I mention the need for compromise? Be prepared to work out the kinks when your co-author doesn't envision a scene the same way you did, and be willing to accept that their idea may be better than the one you came up with. The beauty of co-authoring really is the old adage, "two minds are better than one."

Afterward, make use of critique partners. We belong to two fantastic crit groups. Even though Janelle and I picked apart and perused every chapter, they were still able to offer suggestions and make recommendations that served to strengthen our work. We met face-to-face in order to review the critiques and decide which changes to apply. This became even more valuable as the time for submitting the manuscript to our editor drew near.

Next week: The Deadline


Ane Mulligan said...

Having critiqued the book, I now love reading about the process!

For anyone reading this - you HAVE tyo buy the book when it comes out. It's great!!!

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