Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writing with a partner

My writing partner and I were back-up speakers for today's RWA meeting. Since the original speaker is coming, we're off the hook. However, since loads of people have asked us about writing together, I thought I'd share a bit of what I would have said.

If you're think about writing with a partner:
First of all, you really have to know the person's voice and writing style will mesh with yours. (Just now I made a typo and wrote 'mess' instead of mesh.) LOL. Yeah, if you don't mesh, prepare to have the whole process mesh with your head and get you all meshed up. (Sorry, I love funny typos.)

But seriously now...how do Dalton and I do it? First of all we have different strengths and utilize those. She has a better handle on a guy's POV (having lived with 5 of them!) I guess my strength is speed.

I'm a linear writer and she's what's called a puzzler. I lay down the road in a fast and dirty rough first draft, then she comes along after me, fills in the plot holes and smoothes everything over. We're quite the construction crew! LOL.

If I get stuck, I can call on her for help. If she sees an opportunity I missed in the first run-through, she'll expand on it. If I second guess something, I can hand it off to her and she can give it a fresh look.

For me, it's like having a critique partner who doesn't slow you down. The manuscript just gets magically better while I'm off bulldozing our the way to the end.

We've written two stories this way so far.
The first one, Love Cuffs, was unique. We employed the two main characters each giving their own first person points of view on the same story. Dalton wrote the hero's point of view, and of course she did it much better than I could have!

In Love Cuffs, I began with the heroine's story in my comedic voice. At the end of my chapter it was Dalton's turn...but how do you tell another person's take on the same events? Simple. We invented Chapter One and a half. Then Two and a half, and on and on until the epilogue. (You didn't think I'd let the hero have the last word did you?) LOL

Our second book was written in third person and we both worked on the whole manuscript. This time, Dalton not only improved the hero, but she gave him a unique Italian syntax and researched bits of the language we could use which would be easily understood from context. We just finished edits and received our release date. YAY! It's called Strokes and won't be available until Aug of 2010, so I'll remind you later.

Honestly, we'll probably have more books written together in the future because we both benefit from the partnership. Dalton might not have as many books with her wonderful voice to offer if I didn't "speed her up" and mine might not be as rich or even finished since sometimes I hit a wall and just toss a book to the side of the road. But if I let her come by later and knock down that wall, I'm very glad I did.

I have two books going now. One has hit a wall, and even though I know exactly where it's going, I need her to bring the excavator and dig me a pass through what looks like a mountain right now. The other one, I'm slogging through by myself.

If anyone thought writing was easy, let me be the one to tell you, it's not! But finding the right writing partner can make it a little easier.

Thanks, Dalton! I know you've sung my praises in other blogs. It's about time I returned the favor. You're awesome!

Ash

9 comments:

Lynn LaFleur said...

I recently started writing with a partner too, and it's been a great experience for me. Randi Monroe and I wrote our first book for Ellora's Cave, Turning Point. She did the first draft and I came behind her to smooth it over. We're changing places with the second book; I'm doing the first draft and she's doing the smoothing. It's working very well for us!

Wishing you and Dalton lots more partnership books!

Lynn

Dalton Diaz said...

Aww, I'm blushing! Not an easy feat, given what we write! We are a good mesh, mostly because you're go, go, go and I'm stopping to watch the butterflies. While I'm counting their spots, you're nudging me before I miss the hummingbird!
OK, poetic license in use, but I figure this is a PG blog...

Nina Pierce said...

You did a very nice job in "Love Cuffs" with the two perspectives. I've often wondered about writing with someone, but I know it's about finding the person you can mess with urrr ... mesh with.

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi,
This is my first visit to this blog, I read about it in the RWA site.

I've never worked with a partner (except critique partner) and never thought I'd ever consider it, but yesterday I ran into a woman in the lobby of a hotel who has just retired and was a lobbist for a political party in Florida. She has helped get bills passed, etc for the past 40 years.

She said she had conisidered writing a book, but has only written "bills", never something "huge" like a novel. I have an idea for a single title thriller (which is not my normal genre) and I have the contacts to the medicall and CDC part of the book, but I needed some political stuff. (a LOT of political stuff) Anyway, she suggested co-writing. Well, I don't really know the woman and she doesn't know me. Obviously she is a hard worker and knowledgable (that was very evident in our 20 minutes of talking) but I don't know how we'd mesh...maybe we'd only but heads (two type-A women) and make a huge mess.

Any suggestions?

Sandy

Ashlyn Chase said...

Hi Sandy,

My mother's favorite saying was "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Why don't you suggest you try writing the first chapter (since you know how to write) and have her read it. See if she likes your writing style and ask her to be completely honest with you. Your writing a chapter is never a bad idea and it sounds as if she might have a lot to contribute.

Ash

EmilyBryan said...

Love the road construction analogy! You two rock!

Adele Dubois said...

I enjoyed your article. Sounds like you two have great writing chemistry. Congrats on finding the right mix. I'm sure that's hard to do.

Best--Adele

Ashlyn Chase said...

Thanks, Adele, Nina, Emily, Lynn, Dalton et al.

Yes, we're really lucky it worked out so well! I'm glad you all had thoughts and shared them.

Ash

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