Okay folks, this here is the last segment of our co-writing series. For those of you just tuning in, we are a writing duo of two sisters who wrote a YA fantasy story about a chef who hunts and cooks mystical beasts. You can read more about our WIP, “Mystic Cooking,” here. And you can check out part 1 of our co-writing series here, and part 2 here. Or just jump right in now, whatever makes you happy. 🙂
HEIDI: Writing a book with someone else can be a lot of fun, as long as you’re with the right writing partner. The question is, how do you know if someone would be a good fit? Well, obviously we’re not experts since this is the first book we’ve ever co-written, but here’s our take-away from the whole experience.
KATI: Heidi and I both wrote on our own first, not only completing first drafts of other novels, but also going through the grueling process of editing and re-editing. I am still working on my other story, Tricky Business, about a girl who loses a deal with the god of tricks and ends up stuck working for him when she discovers he’s preparing for all out war against the other gods.
HEIDI: And I ended up scrapping my other story, about a girl who is sold to the god of death in order to pay for her grandfather’s debts, and now she has to help a prince regain his throne by the end of the summer or belong to the god forever.
Interesting, writing that out like that I can see the similarities between our two books, which strangely enough I hadn’t thought about before.
KATI: Of course you didn’t.
HEIDI: ; p
KATI: I guess the point is, we both knew what the process would be like going into this, and both knew the other would be able to hold up their end of the bargain. The fact that we like creating stories with similar themes was also a plus.
HEIDI: So, thinking of co-writing? Ask yourself this:
First, can I be honest with this person? Really, truly, “that is a terrible idea” honest? The nice thing about working with Kati is we’ve both had over twenty years of telling each other when our ideas are terrible – I know it’s not going to affect our relationship if I say I don’t like a plot point she’s putting into the story.
KATI: And I know eventually Heidi will forgive me for cutting out some of her unnecessary characters.
HEIDI: Eventually… 😉 Still, when looking for a partner, the ability to be brutally honest with each other is definitely at the top of the list in terms of importance. Writing is a personal thing, and I know it’s easy to take criticism personally, but you can’t if you’re co-writing or your book will never go anywhere.
KATI: The second thing to consider when choosing a writing partner is how much experience do they have with this process? Are they going to stick with it and write through to the end? More importantly, are they going to help with the editing part? A lot of people newly getting into writing don’t realize exactly how much editing goes into it, and you really need to find someone who is willing to push up their sleeves and dive in until the story is really, truly finished.
HEIDI: I don’t think it has to be a requirement that you’ve both written your own novels and edited them, but I do think that’s extremely helpful, not only because you’ll know the process, but also because it will give you a chance to develop your own individual writing styles, which will only strengthen your combined story.
KATI: Another thing to consider is do you have a similar way of thinking? When you start talking about an idea, will this person chime in, totally on board with your vision? Maybe improving your vision?
HEIDI: In that same line of thinking, do your styles complement each other? What are they good at that you need to work on, and vice versa? For instance, I’m not great at putting in physical descriptions. In my first drafts, you’d think my characters were all naked because I just don’t mention clothing at all. Kati, on the other hand, loves describing the clothing and physical details, so whenever I’d write a section, she’d go in and add those descriptions in, which worked out well.
KATI: I’d also change all your recipes…
HEIDI: Yes, yes, I’m sorry about the whole stew thing.
KATI: Heidi, meanwhile, is pretty good at editing the grammar, spelling, etc., so I can count on her to polish up anything that needs a little extra tweaking. So, when choosing a writing partner, finding an English major is not a bad idea. 😉
HIEID: I knew that degree would come in handy someday. 🙂 And finally, the most important thing to consider of all: Will it be fun, working with this person? Because if you’re not having fun while writing, then really, what’s the point?
KATI: And that’s a wrap. We hope you’ve enjoyed our co-writing posts, and if you have any questions that we didn’t touch on, feel free to leave them in the comments!