When Rachel and I meet readers and other authors, one of the most common questions we get is, “How do you both write a novel?” The second most common has to do with specifics: do we write one chapter and then switch off, how often do we talk, how do we come up with a cohesive voice so it doesn’t sound like it’s written by two people.
Thank you to Charlie Cochet for sharing The Purple Rose Tea House and inviting Rachel and I to talk about our process a bit.
While it’s tough to distill what we do into a simple formula, I’ll describe it a bit and then share some tips if you are interested in trying it for yourselves.
When we write a story, we write enough to get the ‘feel’ of the world and the characters. For me, that takes a large chunk of writing, around 30,000 words. I usually catch the feel pretty quickly, around 1,000 to 2,000 words, but I don’t get a good idea of the overall plot until that magic 30k.
For Rachel, she has a more internal process and when she gets a story, she works at it in her head and has the outline pretty well established fairly early in the process. To be honest, she doesn’t share with me how early because I find an outline to suck a lot of the juice out of the story for me.
Instead, we do a lot of brainstorming. We both think out loud, so this is a lot of fun. We talk either on the phone or via Google Talk daily, as well as share emails when one or the other of us are at our day job and we can’t communicate. I also leave occasional voicemails on her mobile when she’s at work and I just have to talk something through – we often joke that I use up all the voicemail tape.
For those of you curious about trying it yourselves, here’s some tips to avoid confusion:
1 – Start small. Pick something new to you both or use a short snippet of something you’re not strongly attached to so you can experiment and see how well you work together.
2 – Don’t force it. Be gentle with the process – it takes time to learn how you each think and communicate, as well as what gets each of you onto the page. It may be different for each of you.
3 – Respect each others’ process. If one of you is a night writer, and the other an early bird, don’t try to force either one to the other’s way of working. With the internet, you can both write when you’re “on” and share it.
4 – Be patient. Between time zone differences and different work styles, it can take time to get ideas to coalesce. That’s normal and part of the process.
5 – Practice good communication skills. Restate what you think you hear so you’re sure you understand the other person. Use your emotional intelligence and don’t be afraid to have fun. That’s what it’s all about.
To see the latest results of our collaboration, check out TIGER TIGER, available from Samhain Publishing on July 23rd.
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Chicagoland Shifters, Book 2
Veterinary trauma surgeon and animal empath Sasha Soskoff has found everything he ever wanted with his new partners Neal, Steve and Carlos. Life feels as safe and secure as it can be among a group of ex-Marine tiger shifters. Until a homeless man is found, gruesomely mauled and murdered, near Neal’s BDSM club.
When it’s determined a rogue tiger did the deed, the jaguars’ accusing eyes turn toward Sasha’s lovers. The precarious balance of peace tips dangerously toward war.
Neal knows damned well none of his tigers committed the crime. Someone must be in Chicago without his knowledge or permission, and they’d better find him fast before uncertainty and conflict rip the tight-knit band apart from the inside.
As Sasha struggles to heal the stress fractures forming among his tiger family, he begins to wonder if his dreams of a home, and love, were too good to be true. And it’s precisely that moment the killer strikes at the heart of the tiger clan—Sasha himself.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
– E.E. Cummings
Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.
Check out “Taking a Chance“, available from Torquere Books.
Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.
Watch for TIGER TIGER, coming July, 2013, from Samhain Publishing.
Watch for “Seeking Hearts”, coming soon from Torquere Books.