Wednesday, December 27, 2017

How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 3: Writing & Wrap-Up

Alright, here is the final installment of the short little series on co-authoring.



Co-authored with the great Evangeline.



Who may or may not have had a little too much coffee while writing her part...go check out her blog.  Seriously, go do it...you might regret it.  She'll be talking about where you can write your story.







Today (or this evening, rather), I'm going to share our thoughts on editing.



Editing a story on your own can be quite messy, especially if it’s your first time doing so (or, if you’re like me, and just write first drafts that are all over the place).



However, editing with a co-writer is twice as messy.



So don’t even try.

Okay, I’m kidding. Actually, if done with some forethought, editing with a co-writer can be somewhat easier.

Your partner is also your Alpha reader.

Doesn’t that sound great?  The poor soul that is exposed first to all the GRUESOMENESS and the SHEER RAW POWER of the FIRST DRAFT…is someone that helped write the thing…

Of course, editing won't be without it's little setbacks, but hey?  When does a story ever just go 100% perfectly?

In a nutshell: Fix what you are good at, and your co-writer can handle the things he/she is good at. Discuss the plots and characters and such together, and then go from there. If you are good at descriptions, than you can go through the story and take care of those. Your co-writer might tweak dialogue. If you split the story into different POVs, you might edit the ones with your character’s, and your co-writer will handle his/her character POVs.

Go through the draft together and make notes on what need to be changed, then split up the workload according to skill set and willingness to do so. Always keep your fellow writer in the loop of what you’re doing. If you’re going to change a scene, it never hurts to ask first.

Honestly, it's all downhill from here.  Unlike writing on your own, things get easier once you begin to edit.  Your workload is cut in half!

You should always edit the SAME DOCUMENT.  Things get messy when you have to merge to second drafts together.  *Shudders*

This happened to Julian and I once.  We were both editing a story on our laptops, but because we were using different word processors, we just decided to edit two different documents.  We were editing chapter by chapter thankfully, so merging them was actually rather simple, but it was frustrating trying to keep up with what the other was doing.



Once scenes are added, removed, and edited, and all the main and side plots are straightened out, and the dialogue and description are well balanced, send the grammar expert in to do a quick read-through, and you’re finished!


So we have a new year coming up.  Why don't you try something new and co-write a story?  It can be something simple, something short.  No need to start an epic nine-book fantasy saga on your first attempt (but I won't stop you if you do start one).  Just give co-writing a try this 2018!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 2: Characters

So technically I still posted this on Wednesday, so I kept my promise.  :)  But there was PANIC! at work today, and I was so frazzled I forgot just about everything that I should know about anything and yeah...Evangeline was so nice and patient.  Great gal to work with!

But today (or this evening, rather), we are talking about how to write the characters when you are co-authoring a novel.  And just as a reminder, when I am "speaking" the text is green, and when Evangeline gives her wisdom, the words are blue.  Plain black text is just, well...plain black text.


Writing the characters can be one of the hardest and most complicated parts of co-authoring a story.  It can also be one of the best and most enjoyable experiences - when done so as to please both writers. 


It’s complicated.  :)


Today, we are going to tackle the two main ways characters can be handled in co-authoring: sharing the characters, and splitting characters.


Sharing Characters

Again, hop over to Evangeline's blog.  She'll be talking about how to co-author while sharing all the characters.  Very interesting.  :)


Splitting Characters

Most common to co-authoring, each character is assigned to a writer, and that writer is responsible for making sure that the character and the plot surrounding him/her is taken care of, nothing is forgotten, and other character plots are not trampled.  So one writer might take the main character, the other writer the sidekick or another MC.  Side characters are divided up, according to the writers preferences and writing abilities.  (I personally have a hard time writing villains, so I usually just let Evan take over them.)


(I rule the Dark Side.)


Of course, you can always try something new, and work with a character type or plot you usually avoid, just for some practice.  You have your co-author there to help you out, or take on the writing of hard character for you.

You also will need to set up some rules regarding characters to abide by, such as in the words of Iron Man, "Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they'd like to disclose? I'm open to suggestions."


See, when you have a co-author, you can't keep little secrets about your characters’ history or abilities.  Everything has to be on the table.  The point of writing is to surprise your readers – not your co-author.  They need to know what’s going on.


This is a common pitfall I’ve seen (and experienced) in co-authoring.  Everyone wants the cool character with the tragic backstory – which isn’t revealed until later. (ba-dum tiss!)  Please restrain yourself from hiding things from your co-author.  They might unintentionally ruin your secret plot, leaving you furious.  Or in the revelation of your secret plot, you might crush their own plot…and then things go downhill.

You have to be willing to compromise when it comes to characters.  Your favorite character can't win every victory and be the center of attention all the time.  You must be willing to work with your co-author's characters and plots.  Not everyone can have a cool life (or win them all)!


But how do you write a story when you have your own characters you are writing?

Simple.  You take turns - going back and forth with them, moving along the draft, using the POVs of your own characters.  It will often look like this:

Julian:  Vanyar turned back to her visitor.  “Please excuse me for a moment.  I will be right back.”  With a final smile at Jewel, she turned and stormed through the shop, practically yanking the door off the hinges as she burst into the street.  “Tharn Blackshard, you get here right this minute!”

Evangeline:  Jewel covered her ears, and moved farther away, pretending to examine the wares of the shop.  When all was quiet, she turned back to her friend.  “Have you heard from Hwen or the Sisters recently?  Any news from their end of the map?”


Julian:  Vanyar stuck her head back in the shop.  “Say what again?”

Evangeline:  “Have you any news?” Jewel hesitated to stop closer - Tharn had not yet arrived, and Vanyar might break into more ear-shattering screams at any moment.


Julian:  Tharn trotted up, soaking wet, followed by Joshi, who was also damp from head to toe.  “What happened to you boys?” Vanyar waved a finger in their faces.  “What on earth happened to you??”


Evangeline:  The boys both pointed at each other, crying, “He started it!” at the same moment.


And so on until the end is reached.  This is a fun way to get stories covered, but it does have drawbacks: editing can be rather complicated.  If you copy the story right over, you will most likely have some serious head-hopping, POV problems, tenses and such change, and a mash-up of different styles.


Another problem that arises is lack of detail.  Often times when you write alone, you spend more time introducing a scene, and adding description.  When you’re going back and forth quickly, detail and description often falls to the wayside.


This can, however, be fixed in editing (which we will talk about next week, Lord willing).

Key



(Though I will add that Evangeline and I know each other and our characters fairly well, so we often don’t bother to ask, and don’t mind when someone else takes care of a character for a few lines.  Like in the example above, Evangeline "took" my character Tharn when she made both boys point at each other.  I did not mind, however, because she played him correctly - they are both trouble-makers...always close to disaster.)

The Return


How you handle the characters will be up to you.  You can practice both ways before you draft, test things out during the first draft, or just decide which method you want to use beforehand.  You may even try using both (it’s actually very easy to do both, and ultimately, it will sorta’ end up that way regardless of which way you start with)!  Take a look at your story, and where you think it will go.  Which method will help the story flow?  Do you have multiple POVs?  A large cast of characters?  Splitting them up between the co-authors might be best.  Or are you sticking to one MC?  You may want to go ahead and share the writing of him/her.


Come back next week for our wrap-up post where we will discuss editing, give some general knowledge and tips, and dare you to try something new this coming 2018!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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 characters...etc....you 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!

Key
 
 
 
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!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wednesday Teaser

Have you ever written a story with someone, but just ended up arguing about what the characters were going to do?
 
Have you ever co-authored a story but couldn't figure out the logistics of two people and one book?
 
Have you ever wanted to share the writing experience with a friend or family member but couldn't figure out how to introduce them?
 
Well, stop by here on Wednesday for some exiting tips by yours truly!
 
(And also drop by Mrs. Baldwin's blog; the last post for the tag is up!)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Minutes at a Time

So we all talk about how busy we are.  We have no time to write, to read, to do all the things.  School, work, and chores take up a lot of our time.

And that's okay.  After all, education and putting food on the table is important.

But instead of worrying about the three straight hours we don't get to do things (such as writing,, or blogging, or reading), let's focus on the three minutes that we do get.  This is a little thing I like to call...okay, I don't have anything to call it.  (Anyone got a snazzy name for using a few minutes to do something?)

 

I'm reading through a book with some friends, and we are doing one page (both sides; or basically two page numbers...) a day.  It's not that hard - I usually read during lunch break - probably takes about ten minutes.  But do you know what's really hard?  Playing catch-up.  Miss a day or two, and suddenly I need half an hour of time, and that's harder to find.  Like, much harder.

So that got me thinking...this concept can apply to anything.  Don't put things away in your room for a week, and you'll have a huge mess to clean on Saturday.  But if you tidy up at least something every day, it won't be so bad.  Clean up the floor before you go to bed, or refold those shirts you tossed in the drawer.  Wipe the mirror clean after brushing your teeth, and if you see a mess on the sink counter, clean it up before you leave the bathroom.
 
We've all heard the "writing in small increments a day can really boost your word count" deal.  And I'm not denying it.  But I'm not just talking about writing.

So I challenge y'all, this December, to do a lot of little things - things that seem simple, but can add up.  Keep things clean and organized.  Keep yourself feeling great.  Keep your motivation up.  Don't let busyness stress you out.
 
 
Read an extra chapter in the Bible when you wake up.
Take the extra minute to do your hair differently than normal.
Clean the dresser top before you leave your room.
Listen to a story on tape while cooking. 
Read a page a day on that new book (or two pages, if you think you have the time).
Write for ten minutes before you eat dinner, and another ten afterwards.
Drink a glass of water.
Organize your flash drive/desktop/notebooks/wherever you store your writing things.
Go outside (even if it's cold) to look at the stars for a few minutes before bed.
Get something on your to-do list completed - even if it's just a small and simple task.
Smile.

Monday, December 04, 2017

NaNo 2017

So I finished NaNo on the 18th, and was quite happy with my progress.  Not only did I reach 50K, I did it early, so I didn't have to worry about writing over Thanksgiving days.  I got a little over half-way through the story, so I will get back to writing in December and hopefully finish this book by the end of the year.  (yay!)


 

So for now, enjoy a few excerpts!
 
One
 
“Tonight, we will prepare for the celebration as best we can, and alter our appearances.  If she doesn’t suspect us, she won’t play close attention.  We just need to avoid instant recognition and not draw attention to ourselves.  That’s all.”
“Not draw attention to ourselves?  We are a traveling band of minstrels!  We go around playing music and hoping to draw attention!”  I waved my hands for emphasis.  “We are practically going to walk in front of Queen Moreno, play a song, and scream, Look at us! We’re your most hated enemies! Come and kill us!
“Okay, so there is a small flaw in our plan, but...”
“A small flaw?  You call instant death a flaw?”
“Maybe a minor set back, but...”
“So death is just a minor set back?”
 
(Yeah, Marywyn can be a bit dramatic...especially when she's worried, stressed, and panicking...)

Two

“We might be able to rally a number of the Silencers, but they are leaderless, and men without a brave leader are not brave on their own.”
 “Could I convince them?”
 “You could.  But you are not a warrior, Marywyn.  Warriors do not need words to put them at their bravest.  Warriors need their leader - the one they look up to.  That’s where they get their strength and their bravery.”
 I closed my eyes, refusing to let the still fresh tears flow.  “What about you, Rayn?  You’re the Second in Command of the West Band.  You’re the Captain now, come to think of it.  You can lead them.  The Silencers will follow you, at least.”
 “I’m not their captain, and they know it.  The Silencers died when he did, Marywyn.”


(Hits me in the feels - every time.)

Three

I opened to the first page, though the darkness made the words unreadable.  “Thank you, Nahale.  I will try to read it as often as I can.”
“And if you need help, I would gladly read it with you.  Or Lavern, or anyone else.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to go to the Crowned for help.  Acknowledging your weaknesses is not foolish, but rather the first step to overcoming them and receiving help.”


(Marywyn gets her first copy of the Edicts.)

Four

I glanced back at Duren, where he followed a little ways behind with his head bent low.  Yes, he was scared.  Scared of so many things.  But just seeing him here, in spite of his fear, showed his true bravery.  Bravery Mithrin would never have.

Five

This was more people than I had ever performed for before.  The practice I had had had had no means to prepare me for such a gathering.  So many eager faces, waiting for a good song, staring up at me.

(Seriously, those four hads...I ran around the house showing it off to everyone and laughing manically when I realized what I had written...)

Six

I shifted my lute, swallowed as naturally as I could, and finished my breakfast without looking up.  An attempted casual scan of the room showed him still looking at me.
Time to leave.
Preferably a take-off-in-a-flash-of-cloak-and-sword-and-no-one-even-glances-up-Duren-style leave.


Seven
“You will take me there?  Do they have real Meetings?  Do they sing?”
“Yes and yes.  Have you never gone to one?”
“Never.  My old nurse read the Edicts to me, and I read them on my own now.  I try to sing, but I cannot risk being overheard.  I would go to a Meeting, but I don’t know where to go, or how I would go without escaping notice.  But I’ve longed for a day when I could go to a Meeting, and sit with other Chosen, and learn even more about the Crowned and have my little faith strengthened.”


(Imagine being a grown adult and a Christian and never gone to Church before.  Spoiler: she cries.)

Well, enjoy!  And drop a comment if you have any questions about the trilogy - I'd be happy to chat about it.  :)