by Melissa Uhles
Are you looking for tips on co-writing a novel? I have co-authored two books with Amber Roshay who is also my blogging partner. What I’ve learned is that co-writing can be like a marriage. It requires thoughtful regular communication, conflict resolution skills and a healthy dose of self-awareness. But the benefits can be immense!
Prior to writing with a partner, I had written one novel and two novellas alone. And it was a lonely process. There are times when you don’t know what to write next. While beta readers and critique partners can help, they don’t have any skin in the game and usually come on the scene when the first draft is done.
When Amber and I decided to work together, the creative energy around working as a team helped reignite my writing spark when my creative words seemed on the verge of extinction.
Wanna find an awesome partner and start writing your own book as a team? Check out the benefits below and if you are looking for a partner, our Facebook group has writers like you that you can connect with.
There are several ways to approach co-authoring a book. Some teams have one person write the first draft and the second person writes the revision or second draft. That might work for some, but we went another way.
When my writing partner, Amber and I wrote our first book, I looked forward to the proposition of writing fewer words and still having a finished book with my name on it. We came up with a premise and an outline as a team. We used Skype and old fashioned phone calls because we live in different cities.
Once that was done, we used Google docs. I had only used Word in the past. The cool thing about Google docs was that it allowed us to both to write in the same document at the same time.
In fact, Amber wrote a comprehensive guide on how to use Google drive, docs and slides. Great for collaborating with other writers and editors.
We agreed in advance on the hours we’d write (I wrote in the morning and she wrote in the evenings). That said, we had fun spying each other on occasion and could see the words being written in real time by the other person.
I started in the morning with a chapter and she would finish it, or she’d start the following chapter.
We were writing fiction, so when we’d come upon a character or plot problem, the other person sometimes had a solution the other hadn’t thought of. On the flip side, sometimes this caused conflict when we didn’t agree, we ironed things out with honest communication and regular calls.If you have ever written a book, you know the curse of the sagging middle. When you start you are all excited about where it could go. Once you get to the middle you may wonder if it’s even worth finishing. A partner is helpful in getting you to push through the malaise of the middle.
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One important benefit and tip for co-writing a novel is to find the right person to write with. Amber and I had already each written a book on our own before working together. We’ve also known each other since college so we knew each other’s character. I noticed right away that we had complimentary writing strengths.
Now it didn’t hurt that she has a Master’s in Creative writing and I could see the benefit of her education when I read how she crafted descriptive sentences. Mine were sparse and moved too quickly to the next thing, so seeing how she fleshed out details and description helped me a lot.
I’m not sure what she’d say about me, but I think I’m always trying to bring humor into a scene and I’m pretty good at writing dialogue.
Many writers seem to enjoy crafting the first draft but then when it’s time for revisions, the fun is done. I’ve never been too fond of editing but as time goes by, I enjoy it more.
With a partner we were able to edit each other’s work. This can be good and bad, I know sometimes I may have overstepped and over-edited. It’s easy to forget when you dig in that your partner is a person who may not agree with your “improvements”.
Over-all, just having another pair of eyes working over the book will help make it better
While I don’t know the statistics, I would imagine many people begin writing a book but never finish. It’s hard work. It can feel more like digging ditches than creating a masterpiece on some days.
Another important tip on co-writing a novel is having a partner keeps you accountable. On the days when you don’t feel like writing, the guilt will wiggle in. You’ll look at your document and see your partner has written her words, despite having a colicky baby or terrible cold and you’ll get back in and do what you promised to do.
Marketing is another important task you’ll need to tackle once the book is complete and ready for sale. Some authors and writers dread this part of the work. With a writing partner, you can divide and conquer when it comes to writing tasks.
Perhaps one of you will be in charge of Facebook marketing tasks and the other will be on Instagram or blogging on an author page.
Once you have finished your book, submitted it, or self-published it and guzzled some champagne with your writing partner, you’ll have to brave the review process.
Not everyone will love what you made. Some people will say lovely things and some may say terrible things. I’ve heard that all authors should stay off Goodreads as it can be full of more unkind people (trolls) who may or may not have even read the book.
As I’ve shared, there are many benefits to co-writing. I’m sure there a few perks that I haven’t mentioned. I hope you give it a shot. If you do, I’m confident that you’ll learn so much. I know I did.
Are you wanting to co-write a book? What are your tips on co-writing a novel? Feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments.writing course and make money with your words in 2018.