I’m taking a mini-break from my Evil, Esquire posts because I’m not 100% sure what to write about next.
So, instead, today, I’m thinking about partner writing. One of my best friends is also a writer, and a brilliant one. We recently spent a girls’ weekend together exploring the delights of Minneapolis (what? It’s middle ground between East Coast and West Coast). And, as writers, we of course talked about writing. Well, a bit. Mostly we drank.
But during the drinking, we decided to plot out an adventure novel together. Tomb Raider meets … something. We haven’t quite narrowed that down yet.
My question is, how do we make the partner writing work? I mean, do we alternate chapters? Does one person plot, the other write? Does one writer take one character or do both writers write all characters?
Does anyone have any brilliant insight on how to make this work? Bonus points for helping eliminate the conflict between a plotter and a pantser when working together.
I love the idea of writing as partners: partially the connection with another person, someone to be excited about your characters right along with you, partially because I think having another person depending on me to write is a motivation that I could really use these days, and partially just because it’ll be a fun excuse to chat more with a friend.
But, I’m also worried. I mean, what if we can’t agree on anything? What if my overabundant use of commas causes her to hate me? What if we can’t sort out a way to write that doesn’t seem disjointed, incoherent, or impossible?
Any tips, tricks, or suggestions?
Sherry Rentschler says
I’ve done a story with a partner. We discovered that you don’t have to write alike or be best friends to do it. What you need to do is see the same goals for the characters, to see the characters alike. That makes the storytelling the easiest.
Next agree on deadlines for each of your “parts.” We were writing from different characters POV but we needed certain events to happen in certain ways to keep the story going forward. Once those points were ironed out, it was important to keep on a deadline. That kept the motivation going and the excitement in each part, palpable.
Finally, you have to be able to be really blunt about problems and be unafraid to try what the other suggests. If you don’t trust each other enough or skin isn’t tough enough, then don’t do this. But listen to suggestions and try new ideas. And try to write with someone who is an expert in writing where you are not.
I loved my experience and I learned a lot about myself as a writer and what I am capable of as a collaborator.
The story was done online to rave reviews. That was back in 1999. (Today I would hack the crap out of it! Haha)