So You Want to Co-Write a Story

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Brainstorming in San Diego in 2008 – a story interrupted by real life and duly abandoned!

There are only two main reasons I co-write:

1. There is a story that I want to tell that I don’t feel I can get thru alone.

2. There is a writer I want to write with.

Considering how much total joy I get from co-writing, it takes me aback sometimes when people are shocked that I do it and enjoy it.  People have lauded our patience and humility when actually, (I mean, for me, at least) the big draw is that I get to share half the burden of writing with someone else.

Is there anyone out there thinking of co-writing? Or just interested in how and why we do it?  Then keep reading!

Now, for me, this was not a difficult decision.  I love seeing what another generally like minded author can do to a scene I’ve just thrown at them.  But in order to get to that place, I first needed to find a like-minded author – ah – there’s the catch!

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Where we first met!

Cass and I started as friends online, so, way before we started writing together, we knew the other’s basic humor, and basic ability to string a sentence together.  Also, we didn’t start with an original novel.  We started writing within a shared fictional universe where the rules were basically established.

I had no idea how important this would be.  It meant we didn’t have to have a conversation like this:

Ada: How about we write about a monkey called Sal who befriends a golfing nurse named Jackie?

Cass: …

Ada: Okay, well what were you thinking of for a plot?

Cass: I was thinking more like a hard hitting political thriller that ends on the moon.

Ada: …

Which might devolve into a fight about monikers:

Ada: I don’t want to name any character after anyone I’m related to.

Cass: Your father has twelve siblings and they all had children and grandchildren, there aren’t any names left that you’re not related to.

We saved all those discussions for our original work; which we never would have gotten to if we hadn’t started out with other, smaller projects and enjoyed writing them together.

Ada & Splatt
Getting to know each other in person for the first time – California, 2003

SO we found each other. That was the hard part. Next it was just about surrendering all our pride and ego in order to map out a story we both could get behind. Then add to that the willingness to humiliate ourselves by showing each other the very rawest of rough drafts of scenes where we just sort of…lose steam and forget how words work and abandon it and…

Cass: Ah yes; one of the fun challenges of co-writing with Ada! Her fondness for stopping half way through a sentence, assuming I’m going to know exactly what she’s thinking and what a character should say or do next!

In all sincerity, we went into this with dual top priorities. First, we promised each other that our friendship trumped the story, so if either of us could not handle the pressure, we would stop. At the same time, we went into this deciding we could and should write a novel together, and therefore we’d do our best to make it work, so that neither of us would have to bow out from the pressure.

Does any of this make sense? Maybe I’ll just pass it on over to Cass to polish the end.  That kinda seems apropos, right? Or maybe…

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A small section of Ada’s Inbox from the last year!

Cass: It makes perfect sense to me, but then I have spent an awful lot of time “with” Ada this last year – more than in any from our 14-year friendship. Which is pretty funny really if you think about where we live.

We only met in person once during the writing of our book (that memorable trip to Bath a year ago) to hammer out a plot, establish our characters and find a coat for Ada.

But then, what’s a few thousand miles and a 9-hour time difference between friends?!

 

 

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