Saturday, April 14, 2012

Perks and Pitfalls of Writing With a Co-Author

Guest blog, by Edith Parzefall ...

People keep asking how Francene Stanley and I write together, and sometimes I'm still amazed that it actually works. Now we have proof. Double Dragon Publishing  accepted Wind Over Troubled Waters, the first book in our Higher Ground series.

Wind Over Troubled Waters will be released in May, 2012, first as an ebook, and within a few weeks, as a paperback. Very exciting times!

If someone had told me three years ago that I'd co-write four books with someone I never met before, I'd have laughed out loud. Looking back at the now two and a half years of writing, editing and polishing four books with Francene, I still find it hard to believe, although it worked like a charm.

We met on the Internet Writing Workshop when Francene submitted her novel Still Rock Water for critiquing and I submitted Strays of Rio. Both novels will be released this year as well, by different publishers. Incredible.

Francene had already started work on the first book of the Higher Ground series when she invited me to join in. She'd created a rough outline for the first two books and character profiles. I fell in love with what I saw, so I took over three of the six main characters.

Guess what?

Somehow these guys just ran away with me, changed their nature and actions. I thought Francene would kick me out of the project for sure. Instead, she played along.

There's nothing more inspiring than a co-writer who thwarts your character's plans. Of course, Francene retaliated. ;-)

When we started the next book, we went into a writing frenzy, knowing the other waited for the next scene before she could continue.

Sharing the usually lonely euphoria of writing with someone else turned into a wonderfully creative and joyful experience. Writer's block never ever happened.

When one of us ran out of ideas, the other bubbled over with ideas.

Then came the times of reason, whipping each book into shape, and reconsidering the overall story line. We took turns editing and later submitting chapters to our online critique group. By then, we'd usually jump into the next book, driven on by our characters to complete the mission.

Francene and I rubbed off on each other quite a bit. While she wasn't comfortable with writing action scenes, I had trouble coming up with beautiful atmospheric descriptions. At first we specialized on our strengths, but that didn't always work out timewise. When you know there's someone to go over your attempts you have little faith in, you grow bolder, and learn from the suggestions and edits.

Francene ended up writing a fantastic and funny girl fight scene at a party after the mudfights in Wind Over Troubled Waters and hey, I sometimes come up with really nice descriptions nowadays.

When writing with a co-author, respect is the most essential ingredient in the mix of skills, even more important than a shared vision for the book, because that evolves anyway.

Edith Parzefall
Writer's Page