Collaborative writing … how and why it works for us
Lots of people we know look at us as collaborative writers and say, “I don’t know how you two do it. I’d kill my spouse if I had to work with him/her.”
Well, we’re both still alive and well and loving working together.
So what’s our secret? For the inquisitive minds who want to know, here are a few reasons why our writing partnership works.
- We like each other and respect each other—a lot. Respect is paramount in any working relationship.
- We’ve been together more years that we’ve been apart. As a result, we know each other very well.
- We have complimentary talents and we recognize that. Donald is a great idea and plotting person, and Catherine is good at the technical part of writing, the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and etcetera.
- We laugh a lot when we’re working together, even if it’s a serious scene. Nothing brings people together like laughter.
- We plot our stories in detail, but still allow room for the characters to take us to unexpected places. When they do what we haven’t planned, both of us have to sign off on what has happened before it makes it into the book.
- We’re willing to throw ideas, scenes and whole sections of each other’s writing out. There are no sacred cows in our partnership.
- Our methods of collaborative writing are fluid. Sometimes we create using a totally collaborative effort, literally writing together line-by-line (we’ve created a number of our plays using this method). We might revamp something one of us has created as a solo writer, or we might work with one of us functioning as the major writer and the other as editor. Changing things keeps our interests up and our egos in check.
- And last, but certainly not least, we keep the lines of communication open. Writing is usually a solo job, but when you’re working with someone else, you have to let them know how you feel about what’s being plotted, written, and critiqued. If you don’t, then you can stifle the creative flow as well as the collaborative relationship. When we plot and one of us throws out a hasty, “I hate that idea!” (and we’ve done that) there are no hurt feelings on the part of the other person. We will ask for clarification as to why, and the protesting party must come up with a reasonable excuse, but we never get upset, want to quit working together, or get a divorce over it.
We can’t speak to the writing methods of other co-authors, although we have read that some write opposing chapters or each take a point of view, something we haven’t tried yet. However, as a married couple and co-authors, we do feel we bring something unique to the table—a spark we hope will take us a long way on our writing journey. A spark that enriches our personal relationship. For us, that’s enough reason to work together as C.D. Hersh.
Have you ever co-authored something? What worked for you in that relationship?