Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writing: Navigating through a minefield of egos

Trying to figure out how three authors can work together to write one novel is tricky. We're feeling our way through the process, most of the time excited about what we're producing, but sometimes wanting to strangle each other.

Other writer friends are watching us closely, hoping we don't implode and curious to see if we can make this work.

We met our first real test of our partnership this week when we sent off the book proposal to an editor. Our proposal consisted of a 10-page synopsis and the first three chapters of the book.

Editing took us longer than any of us thought as we navigated through each others egos. I'm happy with the result. I think we all are.

But while the experience is still fresh, I thought I'd document a few lessons I learned so that they are here for me to reference again as we move further into this project. And who knows? Maybe this will help someone else who's trying to co-author a fiction project.

1. Trust each other.

2. It's OUR book, not MY book.

3. Respect my partners' voices and don't edit them out.

4. Remember that our voices have to meld into a coherent narrative and can't be individually jarring. Tamp down my voice where necessary.

5. Don't say NO. If someone suggests an edit, it means something is not working for her. Either accept the edit, offer an alternative, or dig deeper and try to figure out if there's another way to resolve it. A blanket NO only irritates.

6. We can't read each others minds. Communicate.

7. It may not be my process to fully clothe and document every aspect of my character's body, personality and history, but if I don't provide that information, then my partners will make it up for me, and I might not like it.

8. Someone has to take the helm, be the lead writer and have final say on edits.

9. Appreciate the hard work my partners are putting in. Thank them.

10. Have fun!

Oh, and while the proposal is out there, send it some positive energy, please. And don't be surprised if there's no status update on this project for several months. The publishing wheels can move slowly.


  1. I have never read a trilogy, is that what it's called. My favorite author, well one of them, Linda Howard has done a few books with some other women writers and I'm sure that's not easy to do, but your suggestions were good. Not my but our and yeah, leave your ego at the door. Takes a lot of humility I guess.

  2. I'm very excited for this book and I'm constantly sending positive energy its way! Good luck and some great advice here! It brings back memories of my University days :)

  3. Anonymous12/17/2008

    Good luck to you and your co-authors!

  4. This is great advice. . . a friend and I are thinking about collaborating on a project and although the hardest part is starting. . . the next is working through all the decisions we'll have to make. Thank you for this!

  5. Sounds tough, haley, for 3 author to write a novel together. Maybe nonfiction but fiction? I don't know but I wish you all success and a positive response from the publisher! :)


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