Jan 8, 2008

Team Writing

by Terri Wagner

It's too epic; it's too long; it doesn't make sense; what is the point of this scene; that's not what I had in mind; why are you writing that; that character doesn't do that; ok that's better, but..........I keep hearing that in a virtual sense these days. An LDS sister and I have taken the plunge and decided to write a Young Adult fantasy novel. It's an experience in tolerance and patience with each other. And frankly a very good thing that we are miles apart: I'm on the Gulf Coast, she's in Washington state.

I had no idea writing together could be so hard. After all, for years, I've written for a trade publication and put up with people changing my articles sometimes on a whim. I figured she couldn't dish out anything I couldn't handle. Wrong!!!!

I met a fantasy writer once through my defunct book club that writes with an LDS partner (she's not). And I asked her how did that work. Did one write, the other edit; did both write, both edit; what was it like working with someone LDS. She replied that they both wrote different scenes (subplots) and then edited each other. And that working with LDS authors was confining at times because of the moral issues. I've since read a series she did alone, and yes the cursing and sexual overtones were added.

So armed with all this knowledge, I proposed the idea to my friend. We decided on YA fantasy because it's a hot market. And with 9 kids, she reads a lot of these type books. I read epic fantasy novels.

That was only the number one problem: I think in epics, she thinks in YA. I'm writing, she's editing; amazing how touchy I can be over something I've written, I don't want to change. We managed to write one scene that we realize has no point to it and one scene I'm rather proud of. We have our 6-book storyline laid out, our major characters listed, our IM services humming along, and our friendship has survived two scenes.

I wonder how long that will last!!! I'll keep you posted. Anyone else out there written with partners? How was your experience?


  1. Terri, I'm currently co-authoring a book with my sister on C. S. Lewis and it has been a very emotional experience. She is so efficient and I hem and haw over every word. I sometimes feel like I'm a nag hooked to a race horse. We're about halfway done but I think the end product is better than either of us could do alone.

  2. Three or so years ago, I wanted to test the idea that if you give a kid a story, he/she can illustrate it, maybe even better than a professional. I tried it on nursery rymes. Some of my great grandchildren did amazingly well. So I gave them a story to illustrate.

    Two of my children encouraged me to publish it. One, a cartoonist, offered to create a cover and a few more things. The other said she'd love to formt the pages. Great. What I didn't expect was that each of them also edited, changed parts of the story, and became semi-dictators. But they were my kids. I respected their ideas. I even tried to put their names under 'author', but they wouldn't agree. And, since they were formatting, they won out.

    The beauty is we're still friendly, loving, and sharing. Maybe even closer.

    The book, by the way, has still never been properly promoted. So far it sits under the general heading of, "Wasn't that fun?"

  3. I read an article a year or so ago about Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, who have collaborated on the Peter Pan prequel books (Peter and the Starcatcher?). It was interesting to see how they worked together. Perhaps you could google their names to find the article. People do it different way ... switching off on chapters or scenes with one writing and the other editing and switching off on the next scene.

    I wrote a YA book with my two critique partners and we each wrote 1 page per day (and we tried to leave on a disaster at the end of the page) and it was really quite fun. Then, after the book was done, we each went through it once in full and made changes. Then the person who had begun that particular book in the series would have final edit on it.

    Just a few thoughts : )

    Good luck.

  4. I had a friend who wrote with a partner. They met together every morning. She sat at the typewriter, her partner paced. They did finish one book, but didn't write any more.


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