Monday, 6 July 2015

The 5 keys to collaborative writing

Want to write a book even though you're short on time? Co-authoring a book with another writer (or two) can be a satisfying experience, since it brings the benefit of another brain, imagination and pair of eyes, and halves the amount of writing you have to do. Here's how to make it work.

1. Plot out the whole story before you start writing. Collaborative writing   works best when everyone involved knows exactly what will happen in each chapter. When writing a novel on your own, you can get way with plotting as you go along, but in a collaborative effort it can be disastrous. List the events per chapter together and, importantly, agree on what the ending will be.

2. Crunch the numbers. Decide how long your book will be, and how many words each chapter should contain. If the entire book is to be an 80,000-word thriller composed of snappy 2000-word chapters, that makes 40 chapters, 20 per person.

3. Divide up the work fairly, upfront. It's best to be scrupulously even-handed, taking it in turns to write each consecutive chapter (unless you're two specialists writing a handbook together, in which case it's more sensible to write those chapters relating to your area of expertise). Assign chapters to each writer at the start.

4. Work to weekly deadlines. They're a great motivator. If you're part of a two-person writing team, you'll have one week on and one week off. One chapter a fortnight is doable, no?

5. Hold a weekly meeting to ensure the writing's on track, to egg each other on, and to discuss and resolve any issues that arise with plot, performance or, er, personalities. Good luck!

Catriona Ross is the creator of The Peacock Book Project: Write the novel of your dreams (www.peacockproject.net). Her books are available in the Kindle Store: Little Diamond Eye, The Presence of Peacocks or How to Find Love and Write a Novel, The Love Book, Writing for Magazines: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, and The Happy Life Handbook.

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