Friend, Friend, Book
There are two steps to writing with a partner:
Step 1: Find a partner
Step 2: Write
Simple enough, right? Of course not. First of all, most writers write alone. Honestly. We fall in love with words, we have stories to tell, we can't easily share our vision with anyone else. Or perhaps more accurately, we share our vision by means of our writing; therefore, we just have to go it alone. My writing partner and I got together years ago. She was a friend who had complementary skills and insights to my own. Her strengths include lyrical descriptions, and writing really scary bad guys. Mine focus more on smart-aleck comments and finding humor in encounters. One day over coffee (Diet Pepsi for her), we were complaining about the challenges of writing. We asked each other why we weren't selling anything. She was fantasy/horror, I was mainstream contemporary short fiction. "Romance is what's selling," she said. I couldn't disagree. So we decided to write a romance. At the time, it seemed pretty easy. A couple strong leads, a conflict, lots of thwarted romantic energy. We'd be done in three months. We agreed to share 50/50 both the work and the profits (if any). We worked out a one-person pseudonym using our grandmothers maiden names.
Step 2: Write. Whoa! Back up, you're saying. How does that work with two people? First we talked character. We met at my house or her house or a restaurant on Saturday morning and asked each other and ourselves questions about the people in our novel. Who was our heroine? Who was the hero? Why was there conflict between them? As it morphed from a true romance into a romantic adventure, we just kept talking and taking notes. Then we plotted: Chapter 1, introduce the heroine. Chapter 2, bring in the hero and some insight into the conflict, Chapter 3, bad guys and big drama. We had it all laid out, including the time line and the travel line. (Did I mention that we sent our pair running from bad guys through small towns from lower to upper Michigan? With a cat? We did.). From our plan, we assigned scenes or chapters to write. We each took one and wrote, then met a week or two later and exchanged. These were the days when computers were still seen as fancy typewriters, so we printed and exchanged our scenes and then re-wrote them. Note that please: we re-wrote them. Each of us rewrote the other person's scene or chapter, adding touches in places that we saw were rough, changing things that were not logical or did not add to the plot. So we wrote, solved problems, did research to make sure the plan worked, engaged with our story and each other. And laughed and laughed. We didn't always agree, but we didn't hold a grudge. The work was what mattered.
Eventually, we got to the end--not in the three months we expected; it took two years.Then we started over, got feedback from our writers' group, and rewrote again. I'd love to tell you that right after we finished, we got our book published. But, no. We got rejection after rejection and finally put it on the shelf. We remained friends but went on to our own other projects: writing, teaching, graduate school, family stuff.
Twenty-five years later, my friend and writing partner called me up. "Hey," she said. "Remember our book?" Of course, I did. "I found it in my computer files. It's still good. With a little updating, we might be able to sell it." She revised, sent it to me, then I revised. Over the course of six months, we got it in shape and published it ourselves. It kept its original name, Double Danger, and we put both of our names down as authors. After all, we are partners.
Double Danger - Can be found for sale here.