Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ten Guidelines for Co-writing

Two long-time Romance Writers Who Behave Badly got together last year, and from that frolic came a story, “Sophie’s Rogues,” which officially released this week. One of the big questions we get all the time is "What’s it like to co-write?" Well, we’ve got the answer to that, by way of Ten Guidelines for Co-writing:

1.       Get yourself an awesome and unflappable co-writer. Proceed to annoy, bother, and ultimately flap her. (Note: This isn’t a guideline I can really attest to as I don’t think Christa ever once flapped. The whole thing was like a staring contest. That I lost. – viv)
2.       Come up with a good versioning process. Nothing’s more frustrating than adding your bit to the master doc ... and then having it get overwritten or accidentally deleted or lost. Dropbox is great for sharing master docs, but you’ll probably want versions even there.
3.       Don’t expect everything to go smoothly, but don’t be surprised if it actually does.
4.       Agree on the basics beforehand: POV, setting, characterizations, theme, end-state...
5.       ...and then proceed to break as many “rules” as possible, knowing that your partner is going to save you from looking like a dork.
6.       Share all your ideas, even if you think they sound lame or unfeasible. Co-writing by its nature offers a great fast-track through brainstorming. Can’t hurt to take advantage of that.
7.       Nail down your process. Some co-writers pick a character each and then exchange POV-centered scenes. We used a more linear and organic process: one of us would write until she was stuck, then the other would pick up and unstick the whole thing.
8.       Write to your strengths. The truly awesome thing about co-writing is that you have a whole other set of strengths – your co-writer’s. The best co-written stories showcase the best of both writers.
9.       Allow yourself to have fun. Solitary writing can begin to feel like work after a while, but when you add another writer into the mix, it’s suddenly a social event, a grand experiment. A party. So go ahead and indulge a bit.
10.   Write with someone you trust and respect.
Christa, this has been the awesomest part of my writing adventure so far. And yes, I did just use a non-word. You may red-ink me now. –viv

Cross-posted to Viv's blog

1 comment:

William Kendall said...

This list is pretty much what my partner and I have been doing in our collaborative work. We've been writing a romance-erotica where she writes the female lead's point of view and I write the male lead's point of view, and we also play around with the supporting characters that way. It's worked out quite well indeed.

Great post!