One of the things Miriam said to us that was really great was “you cannot tell where one of you writes and the other picks up in your book.” Mind you, she said a lot of things that had us beaming, but this was huge because we worked hard to tailor our styles to one another so the flow of Awakening wouldn’t be compromised. Lauren is heavier on description than I am, and I’m heavier on dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, I can go on a windy rant about drapes on occasion (one of my first big writer loves WAS Anne Rice after all), but it’s few and far between that it happens. In the end, I think Lauren toned down her description, I beefed up mine, and we met in the middle.
Here are a few rambling thoughts on the how/why of writing with a partner, and what worked for us (I think).
– COMMUNICATION. Be clear on where you’re going not only with plots, but with characters. If you’re not sure that taking a character in a certain direction is a good idea, don’t just write the scene and say SUCK ON MY AWESOME, WRITING PARTNER. Talk about it. Funny enough, I just ran into a great line I wrote yesterday that would have altered the plot of Awakening’s sequel, and she advised me to take it out. Good line was good. I was sad? But in the end that’s not a decision I should make alone.
– Be Flexible. You’re not always gonna agree on how something should go down, but if they gave you the benefit of the doubt on your last idea, maybe it’s time you gave them some leeway, too. Don’t love your own stuff so much you can’t fall in love with theirs.
– Pick someone you know you can work with. Lauren’s been my friend through ten years of insanity. She knows me REAL WELL. If she couldn’t have tolerated my eccentricities, she wouldn’t have signed up for the project. Another thing about who you choose? Make sure they can check an ego at the door. There is absolutely no room for it when you’re trying to work together. Sometimes they’re going to say something doesn’t work for them, and you need to listen. It’s 50/50. So if you think “Well, I’m carrying this team anyway” . . . yeah. You aren’t gonna go far.
– BETA READERS. You guys might not pick up on where the voice changes, but other people who read will. If/when they say something doesn’t Go With the Flow, Joe . . . give it a serious look.
– Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and make sure your partner knows them too. For example, I tend to adopt-a-word. I don’t mean like those 20 cent a day Sally Struthers programs where you feed a kid overseas. More like I get attached to a word and tend to overuse it until Lauren beats me with a fish and points out that I’m overusing it.
I avoided that in Nin. Fish beatings hurt and make me feel unclean.
– Have some semblance of a writing schedule and try to keep to it. Things happen in the real world – people get sick, tired, home late from work, etc – but once Lauren and I got our world and characters established and had a clear idea of where the story was going, we committed to 1500 – 3000 words every 5 to 7 days. If we were falling behind on time lines, we’d nudge one another and ask where it was at. In that way? Writing with a partner is super awesome because you not only have your self imposed pressure to get things done, someone else is depending on you and will give you that push you might need to get your butt in motion.
– Establish “jobs” when the manuscript is done. If one person is writing the query and synopsis, the other person should maybe be taking a hacksaw to the manuscript and paring it down, or making those edits you both wanted to make. Try to divvy it up so it’s fair, keeping in mind people’s strengths.
– Talk about your Dream Team agents so you have an idea of who you would love repping you. Do research and then touch base with one another on who you think is great and why.
I can’t think of anything else. Maybe Lauren will swoop in and comment or something.