How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 1: Getting Started

There's an old quote that goes something like "Write what you know."  So today I am here to talk about co-writing a story, and Evangeline is helping me (she is my co-author, after all)!

Personally, I absolutely love co-writing.  Some of the best stories I have written were co-authored with Evangeline.  Some of my favorite characters are the ones we created together.  Some of my favorite quotes are from our stories.  But I digress.

I mean, seriously, these are sooooo cool!!!  (What you don't see are the stories we wrote via flash drive instead of actual paper and ink.)
Back in 2013, on a long car trip, Evangeline and I grabbed a notebook and decided to write a little story in it to pass the time.  It was a huge success (as in, we were instantly addicted and there is no cure).  Four years later, we have not looked back from co-writing.  From those little stories and snippets, have emerged entire novella, novels, and our complete series beautiful-brainchild Heritage of Kings.

Writing with a co-author is a different experience from writing on your own.  It’s scary and unfamiliar!  You don’t have complete control!  You have to share your characters and your work!  So why would you do it?  (Cause seriously, only those who enjoy forms of self-torture might like this...)

Simple.  It’s a great way to get non-writers into writing, to try out new styles, or simply to have help with brainstorming, plotting, writing, and editing.

But today, Evangeline and I are here to prepare you (and hopefully excite you) for jumping into this new way of writing!  We actually wrote most of the content on the posts together, taking turns the way we do when writing together.  When Evangeline is bleeding her fingers onto the keyboard, the font color will be like this.  And when I'm explaining, it'll look like this.  Ready?  Keep reading!

What should I expect to experience if I co-author?

Please jump over to Evangeline's blog for her list on things to expect.  You can read it first, or you can finish this post and then go visit her - it really doesn't matter.

Getting Started

The first thing you need is a story idea.  You're dead in the water without one.  Once you have your initial idea, sit down with your friend/co-author and work out a rough outline.  It doesn't have to be an eight-page document with all the scenes in detail, but enough to hold up the story idea. 

Basically, this is very similar to normal writing.  You get an idea...flesh things out...gather just need to work it out with another person, and make sure everyone is happy.

For Julian and I, we generally both come up with the plot together.  She usually has a good head for planning the general scope of the story, and then I sit down and work out all the smaller threads and side plots that bring everything together.  After I’m done, I’ll bring it back to Julian for review.  She'll tweak it or add elements of her own.  Once everything is agreed upon, we start writing.

Of course, sometimes you and your friend might have different methods of outlining.  And I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to outline differently for the same story when co-writing!  Evangeline usually keeps an outline consisting of things we have already verified to be in the story (such as “they go to the castle for XYZ”) and she keeps that with her while she writes.  I prefer to get a general idea (usually attained after lots of discussion and the final plot revision) and then wing it.  But I always have Evan to keep me on track.

The saying “two heads are better than one” holds true when co-authoring.  You'll always be coming back to the plot and tweaking/adding to it.  What makes co-authoring so great is being able to bounce off each other when brainstorming.

Not to mention that co-writing means you have twice the amount of strengths (and brain power) going into the story.  Evan is always there to bring humor to the draft, and I keep the drama and music going.  Evan pushes the plot forward, and I sew up any holes.

One thing that is fun to do with co-writing is to try branching out into a genre that isn’t one you’re normally writing in.  Evan didn’t write much fantasy until we started co-writing together.  And with the story I’m writing with Sarah will have more of a modern feel, which will be new to me.  So don’t be afraid to try something new!

The Return
So, are you interested in co-authoring yet?  I hope so, because there’s more coming next week!  This series (should) have two more parts covering how to deal with dividing up characters and work load, and then another with tips on how/where to write and edit your shared book.
Happy co-writing!


  1. Hehe! Your portion of the post was great, JD! I really had a lot of fun coming up with these post ideas with you.

    1. Yes!! This has been fun to do yet another thing with you! <3

  2. I loved reading this post :) It was really cool to see the process in which you two did it. I can see myself doing this sometime.


    1. Co-authoring is TONS of fun!! With a great fellow writer, it's very enjoyable and the stories are great!

  3. Great job, Jules! Can't wait until we start our story and get to put these tips to good use!

  4. Great ideas. Hope it goes well for the two of you. Two heads can be better than one--how about trying writing it from 2 POV? That would really make life interesting!