Friday, October 27, 2006

To Co-Author or Not to Co-Author

That is the question…

And that question can be answered by asking yourself a few different questions --

Are you fanatical about being in control of the plot, characters and flow of the story?

Do you think your ideas and concepts surpass all others and you aren't open to changing them?

Do you have problems accepting criticism?

If you answered yes to any of the above save yourself and all those in ranting range the frustration and stick to writing solo.

If you answered no to the above questions and are interested in writing with another author then by all means give it a try. At best you'll have a saleable novel and a lot of fun. At worst you'll, hopefully, recognize early on that it just isn't working out and go back to writing solo. Assuming you haven't caused severe damage to your partner -- you're no worse off for trying.

Okay, so you've decided to try it. What next?

The most important part of making a co-authorship work is choosing the right partner. Just because you get along personally with another writer doesn't automatically mean you can work well with them. I know many brilliant, creative writers that I have fun with…but couldn't pull off a novel with. Nine times out of ten it's because they're the types to answer 'yes' to the questions above.

Once you find a writer that you get along with and passes the test of the first three questions don't consider you're choice made. Make certain you are both on the same page by asking him/her and yourself a few more questions, make sure you both agree.

Is this a project purely for fun or for eventual print?

Are you both equally reliable?

Do your voices match well enough?

Are you both able to write in the genre you are proposing?

Do you trust each other?

If you find a writer that you agree with on all points, then congratulations! You're off on a fun and memorable journey.

As for how you work your co-authorship…that's up to the two of you. The most common ways I know of are --

The one I call the 'back and forth' style -- first author writes the first draft then the second author takes it and does the re-write. After which they both sit down and do a final third…or fourth…or fifth draft.

Role-play style (my preferred choice) -- each author has their character(s) and the novel is first role-played out. Then a solid POV is chosen for each segment and the author in control of that character re-writes the drafts for their character's segments. Each edits the other's work.

Whether you choose solo, co-authorship or a mix writing is a grand and gratifying career. Enjoy it and good luck!


About the Author

Raven Bower is the author of Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Raven is currently working on several writing projects including a fantasy novel Depths of Sin, co-authored with Markus Niemi

Apparitions Blog

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Anonymous Markus Niemi said...

Ahh, that is the question. To write solo or in a team. Both have their upsides and are interesting journeys to take.

I personally like to write both ways, perhaps even more to co-author, but then again, that's no suprise from a writing addict like me. >)

Though when it comes to choosing a co-author, I'd like to make one additional comment... Even if you and the other writer agree on the questions and are on the same page, it may not work easily at first.

As much as me and Raven write together, it still took us a while to get used to the other's style - even if we had been friends for years at that point. But patience and sheer stubborness won out in the end and resulted in the Depths of Sin and us choosing to make more such works in the future.

-Markus Niemi

Mon Oct 30, 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Raven Bower said...

Yes indeed :D

Although co-authoring isn't the easiest way to go and it takes certain types and patience to do can be a ton of fun.

That and since there are two minds and hands at work it seems that the work load is lighter.

Another nifty aspect is since you don't control all the characters more unexpected twists occur.

Tue Oct 31, 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Waldman said...

I really appreciate what you wrote in your description of "To Co-Author or Not to C-Author". I have a pretty concept of a storyline with a lot of latitude for character and plot development. My story idea is one that crosses Harry Potter with Da Vinci Code with a little Star Trek to seal the deal.

I have an extremely busy career and really would love to write a book but unfortunately I don't feel I would ever truly "get to it".

If you know someone who might be interested in helping to develop the characters and plot I would love to talk to them. My email is Thanks Jeff.

Tue Aug 05, 08:08:00 AM  

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