Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Writing 101: Co-Authoring

All authors have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing a story. So what if you find an author who's strong where you're weak? When is co-authoring an option, and can it work for you?

Writing with Others

Finding another author to shore up your own work may sound like a good idea on the surface. But there are so many things to consider, even planning for it can be an overwhelming experience. And even the best-laid plans can go awry. Writing with others is difficult, and it doesn't always work out well.

In order to successfully co-author a book, you have to find an author that you can work with -- someone who, preferably, uses a style and voice similar to your own. Writing a book is a stressful process, and it requires a lot of time and thought. You need someone you can work with. 

You also need to establish the parameters of the collaboration before you begin the project. How much input does the other author have into the plot, the character development, the end of the book? Are you going to write the outline and plot the story together, or do you need someone who can write what you've plotted? If you're using your own outline, you'll have to brief your co-author extensively to be sure the two of you are on the same page (pun intended).

Co-authoring has worked well for bestselling author James Patterson. He's written many novels, both stand-alone and serial installments, with other writers. Patterson has co-authored books with many authors, not just one. He has written more than one book with several of his cohorts. Co-authoring hasn't worked so well for other authors. Julia Child wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with two other authors, one of whom she never worked with again.

Establish the workload before you begin writing to avoid any problems later down the road. Decide who will do what and how it will be done. Work out a schedule, hammer out a plan and try to iron out all the details because problems will arise later. The more you collaborate with others, the better you will get at co-authoring.

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