I have done something that I haven’t done in some time. It’s not a bad thing, or even a weird thing, but for me it was completely out of the ordinary. In all fairness, I have done it before. I even enjoyed doing it, pretty much every time I’ve done it I ended up enjoying it, in fact. But getting then nerve to try it again… well, I have to be honest, it was a little hard. I felt a touch uncomfortable at first. See, it’s easy to forget how to do something like this. But once I got into it, things progressed fairly smoothly and before I knew it we were both having a great time.
That’s right. I’ve co-authored a novel. (Which is totally what you thought I was talking about, right?)
If I’m being completely honest, I’m not usually one for writing with somebody else. It’s hard, it can be awkward—especially when that person is nine-hundred and eight-four percent smarter when it comes to “all things wordy” than I am—and if both authors aren’t on the same wavelength, things can get downright frustrating. Working with other humans is hard enough at the best of times, throw in some creative-minded-stubbornness, some left-side-of-the-brain thinking around corners, and a strong protect-the-character-(and all his or her words)-at-all-cost-instinct, and you can end up with a nasty war instead of the beautiful art you were expecting to make. Not to mention there’s the whole attempting to “blend styles” thing. You can have two of the most beautiful styles in the world, but that doesn’t mean the end result of their compilation is going to be a success. Think of it this way: imagine a collab attempt between Da Vinci and Monet. With such differing styles, the end result is going to be either brilliant—a perfect mix of dots and dashes and smudges portraying piously beautiful people—or it’s going to be nothing but a mess that would make a four-year-old’s first attempts at water colour impressionism look fantastic in comparison.
The best part of collaboration is not just bringing together two different styles, it’s bringing together two styles that will complement one another. Because while there are some mediums that just don’t mix—oil and water—when it’s done right, the end result is not just art, it’s damn near magic.
The worst part of collaboration is the same old issue that’s been taking place since mankind first realised that they could hunt better in teams: it means that people have to work with other people. And people can be such ridiculous assholes at times. Collaboration is only good with assholes when everyone’s naked and the assholes in question are well lubed. Otherwise, they need to stay far, far away from the writing process. Attitude, bullying, and disrespect of either talent or process will destroy the best of projects before they ever get started.
So how does one write with another author? How do you make it work? What should one be asking themselves and their potential project-partner?
- If your novel requires you to work with each other at the same time, are you both going to be available for that? Can you come to an agreement for setting aside time that respects both of your schedules; and will you be able to fit the agreed upon time(s) into your life? Nobody likes to set up work-dates just to have them broken. No one wants to feel pressured to make time that they don’t have, or take necessary time away from their families. Make sure you both think the same way on this before you even start.
- Do you like your potential partner’s writing style? No matter who had the original idea, and no matter how you’ve broken out the story between the two of you, your potential partner has their own style that they’ll be bringing to the project. That is a fact, and they’re not going to change how they do things – leopards don’t change their spots and authors don’t change their prose. If you think that their writing is sloppy, or boring, or if you can’t stand their sentence structures, then why in Hades would you be considering writing with them? If it drives you crazy now, it will drive you completely mad while you’re trying to write. Trust me, trying to get a book out there will make you crazy enough already. Cling to every shred of sanity that you possibly can by making sure you like what your potential partner does, and how they do it.
- Be respectful of moments in life that nobody can do anything about. Your potential partner will have days when you were supposed to be writing but the dog is throwing up ALL OVER the DAMN HOUSE, or Uncle Bart just got arrested for peeing in a public pool, or their significant other needs some extra-special-cuddly-blanket-nobody-but-us-pillow-fort time. Even if you’ve already come to a set-in-stone agreement (see point 1) there will be times when you’ll have to let that slide. I strongly recommend that you use the time to go build your own pillow fort, climb inside it, and daydream up something for the next chapter that will blow your potential partner’s mind when you talk next.
- Nobody wants to get stuck having the conversation wherein they are forced to question their project-partner’s devotion to Sparkle Motion.
(Yes, Kelly, I absolutely did steal that line from you but you totally stole it from Donny Darko so I don’t feel bad about it.)
((No, Kelly wasn’t questioning my devotion, it was a comment made in a completely unrelated conversation that reminded me how much I love that saying. Yes, I now totally overuse it.))
- Dialect: get used to each other’s. All the gods know you don’t want to set upon a confused search for some Excel file that doesn’t exist when your writing partner was just saying the name of your book series. 😉
Now, I got lucky with my project-partner, Kelly Wyre, as we get along great and usually think similarly with respect to how we want to work, when we want to work, and if we want to work. Kelly also has, as previously stated, lots of much smartness with the English language. As such, Kelly is editor-in-chief of pre-submission writing, pre-publishing editorial director, CEO of communications, and executive-producer of the Exile series as a whole. Kelly also does most of our stunt work.
We get along so well because I am okay with this (and by “okay” I mean “thank the gods that *I* don’t have to do it”). So Kelly is happy because Kelly gets to hold the reins, and I am happy because I get to nap in the coach seventy percent of the time.
But, to be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve worked with Kelly Wyre so we kind of knew what we were getting into beforehand. Back in our Y! days (a long, long time ago… ) we used to write stories for each other. These stories resulted in the two of us tag-teaming a “chapter-at-a-time” free read fiction which was ultimately published by LT3: Vision Quest. If you haven’t already, you can check it out for FREE here on Amazon, or here, for FREE, directly at Less Than Three Press.
(Okay, there was also this one time that we tried to do this multi-platform story-telling project thing for a broken-hearted porn star’s open call… but we don’t talk about that. Never happened, folks. It never. Happened.)
Flash-forward (or are we flash-backing? I’m not even sure at this point?) to a year or so ago, when I was presented with a brilliant idea that had been twisting through Kelly Wyre’s brain (sounds kinky), and I didn’t hesitate. We’d already been through the process and we knew it would work for us. Now I’m proud to say that we’re looking forward to the release Breaker, Exile Volume 1. I hope if you get a chance to read it that you’ll be able to tell just how much fun we had together with it.
Point being: that is how one does a collab.
So how about you? How do you feel about coauthoring? Does it/did it work for you? I’d love for you to share with me—happy endings always welcome, but I do love me a good horror story as well. 😉
Until next time,
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley newest novel, the most recent release in Henley’s Wolf series, ‘Wolf, in League’ hit the shelves in October, 2016. Pick up your copy today!