When we tell people we co-write, they’re often curious.
“How do you do that?”
This is usually expressed with faint skepticism, as if this couldn’t be, you know, fun.
But it can be with the right approach. Here’s what we’ve worked out over 2 books:
#1: No matter how similar your tastes, both bring something different to the table.
J grew up in the ‘burbs but spent most of her adult life in the big city. She brings urban skepticism to character development. K grew up so far out in the country that she should take over the Grizzly Adams title. Neighbors have to be trusted because there are only two and no one wants a 10-mile hike to the grocery store for milk.
If you don’t think this shaped some interesting arguments about character development, you’d be wrong.
We talk about 50% reader input on everything, and this applies to writing as well.
#2: Accept how your co-writer writes. Trust us ~ it’s not like you.
One of our biggest breakthroughs came from recognizing how different we approach our writing. J is about the Big Picture (how all the little bits add up to one cohesive whole). K is about the Feelings (the emotions that drive the characters and grab the readers by the lapels). It took some time to see where the other was coming from when outlining the story.
J’s still not comfortable with K going off on just any scene that pops into her head, and K still feels like a deer in the headlights when J asks what the scene conveys in relation to the overarching story, but it’s getting easier all the time.
#3: No matter the differences, the goal is the same: write a fun-to-read story.
Neither of us are perfect writers. We like the same books for different reasons; we like different books for contrasting reasons. But we both agree that we want to write entertaining stories that are fun, exciting, and page turners, so we agree to disagree and then get down to solving the problem whether it be technical issues like structure, character voice, or emotional depth, because no problem is unfixable.
Onward and upwards!