Co-authoring a novel is a very interesting experience for a writer (especially for an indie author) because the writing process is traditionally solo. I've personally found that it is a lot easier to keep motivation on a collective novel. They allow you to meld your skills with those of another author, making for a product neither of you could have created alone. Also, being exposed to another author's skills and viewpoints so thoroughly can teach you a lot. Here at a few things to keep in mind when partaking in such an adventure.
1. Don't Trample the Other AuthorIt is very important that you allow the other author to express their thoughts, ideas, and sentiments. If you don't, why write a collective novel at all? Why not just write a normal novel? This is a co-operative endeavor, so listen to your partner. You will learn from them if you do, as well as end up with a superior product. Also, how do you think it would feel to be trampled? It wouldn't be pleasant, so respect your fellow writer and listen to them.
2. Don't Let the Other Author Trample YouThis works the other way around as well. Don't let yourself be trampled, as it will make the whole experience a nightmare. Make your voice heard, don't just be silent. Compromising is great, and important, but make sure that you are not the only one compromising. The next point ties in with this one.
3. Choose the Right PartnerThis may seem obvious, but you need to choose someone who can work well with you. If you are a hardcore sci-fi author and your partner does Amish romance, you aren't likely to get very far, unless you are somehow combining the two into something you both will like. But also temperaments are important. If you are a meek person, choosing someone who is more on the pushy side may be a mistake, unless you are sure that they can keep their shortcomings in mind. Also, the other way around. If you tend to be more pushy, either choose a person similar to you, or make a point to ask the other what you think.
A good way to choose a partner you can work with is to each critique the others work first. This will allow you to understand them better (both from their writing and their critique) as well as build trust. And remember, opposites aren't always bad. If you tend to be character-based and your partner tends to be plot-based, your novel will likely be strong in both.
4. Make Sure Your Goals AlignWriting a novel is a long process. Make sure that your co-author is committed to finishing the project, and also that you agree on just what the project should be. Many conflicts can arise later on in the process, such as late rough draft or even redrafting and editing, because of differing assumptions. Maybe you both agree on the plot, cast, and theme, but how a particular character thinks, or the meaning behind a certain event, might be completely different in your minds.
5. Be Ready for CompromiseThis may seem like a repeating chant, but it's really the most important point. You WILL have differing opinions on different aspects of your story. It is impossible to prevent that, because you can't talk over every single detail, and a lot of times there is no "better", just "preferred". In these cases, you will have to compromise. This may mean you give up your idea, they give up theirs, or you both give yours up and look for a completely new solution. But it does mean that the novel will not turn out how you envisioned. This is true for any novel, but much more so with a collective novel. You need to be ready for this, and relinquish that expectation. It is a lot easier to deal with when you have prepared for it.
Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.
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