Carrying on with the idea of writing with a partner, I wanted to share with you some of the advantages and pitfalls of doing such. I thought I’d start with the pitfalls.
You might recall that I co-wrote two books in what was supposed to be a trilogy, but was never finished, with three other writers. Typically, you either see two people co-writing one work, or you see multiple authors jumping in to pen a boxed set as a way of promoting all the writers involved. The latter normally don’t interact with the others as far as the writing of their respective story is concerned. To co-write with one person can be a challenge, but four? Wow! We had our work cut out for us. Even though we were terrific friends, let’s face it, y’all, writers are notorious for having huge egos which swell their heads up the size of Crimson Sweet Watermelons at the peak of the season. We four were really no different. Four writers equated to four opinions on everything. It required a lot of cooperation to ever get the first book off the ground.With two of us, I find it’s a bit easier. Also, in our case, another pitfall came when two of our writers at different times during the process weren’t able to fulfill their obligations to the project. When you’re solo, you have one and one only to worry about, thineself. Another pitfall of working with so many at once, was editing. We were challenged in our self-edits, and again when the work passed through the hands of not one but two editors. I’m sure they’re still cursing us to this day. One last piece of advice concerning pitfalls, co-writing can test a friendship if it’s not already rooted in honesty. Some people have a hard time saying what they think, and others have a hard time hearing it. A lot of good may have been overlooked for someone’s fear of hurting another’s feelings, and a lot of feelings may have been hurt for lack of tact on another’s part. It’s a tricky business.
While these pitfalls can be daunting, the rewards and advantages of working with someone else are plentiful. This is especially true if you choose to only work with one other person and you know that person well. Hayley and I meet that criteria. We have a very honest friendship that’s lasted many years now. What is it they say? The mark of a true friendship is when one person is capable of telling the other their face is dirty? Yes, we have that type of relationship. If she asks me something she needs an honest answer to, I oblige, although tactfully. I love her like my own kin and wouldn’t hurt her for love nor money. She returns in kind the same courtesy. And that’s the first advantage, knowing who you’re working with so well you can point out a mistake and know you’re not going to face backlash. Another reward is having a second set of eyes. A writing partner may see a scene or chapter in a completely different light than you may have imagined or considered. More than one opinion can be as much an advantage as a pitfall if you’re willing to approach a co-writing relationship with an open mind and set your own ego aside.
Having those eyes is even more beneficial when it comes to catching errors in grammar, spelling, and timeline. When you write with someone, if you’re using the two POVs method, you’re only responsible for fully developing one character and telling the story through their eyes. It also gives you insight into your character when the other writer bounces off your cues how they see the scene or your character’s actions. Sometimes you can learn things about your own character you never knew and wouldn’t have otherwise known had it not been for a secondary POV showing you. You get twice the exposure. Not only do you put something out your own readers will pick-up, you get the added bonus of reaching out to another writer’s fan base which could result in residual sales of works of yours they might not otherwise see or consider. It’s a great marketing tool.
Lastly, but certainly not the least. It’s just plain fun! It’s a delight to bounce ideas off each other, brainstorm after the kids are in bed with a cuppa and video chat. It stretches your brain by considering other ideas that you might not have thought of on your own. It tests you. And honestly, every writer needs to be tested at times so they stay on top of their game and continue to grow.
Writer friends, co-writing isn’t for everyone, but it can be extremely rewarding under the right circumstances. Readers, don’t shy away from co-written works. You might discover a new author or two by giving a team effort a chance.
Have a great week, y’all! Write well, read much, love hard, and play like no one’s watching the playground.