Monday, June 27, 2011

Of Purses, Plots, and Prioritizing - Part II

By now, all of you know I am a Seat-of-the-Pants writer. Yet, with my latest WIP I'm getting a little wistful...about plotting.

Knowing what's coming up in a story has advantages. Research targeted toward a specific storyline is much easier than covering an entire subject from A to Z. Characters' personalities can be crafted to match a plot-driven novel.

Karen Lange, of Write Now, and I embarked on this adventure a few months ago. Yes, we're collaborating on a novel. We've both wondered at times whether we'd lost our sanity, but things are beginning to chug along.

The Method

Susan

We decided on a genre (a secret for now), timeframe (American Colonial period), and characters. Then, we turned the whole kit and caboodle loose.

I wrote the first chapter. From there, we take turns, building upon what the other writes. We never know what twist, turn, or dilemma will surprise us when we receive the latest installment.

Karen

As Susan mentioned, we alternate writing the chapters. I think this is a great way to share the responsibility. We have each done/continue to do different aspects of research, and both bring a different yet similar skill set to the project. It's a wonderful way to blend our writing styles and bring an interesting angle to the book.

The Difficulties

Susan

The biggest difficulty for me is the loss of momentum when it's Karen's turn to write a chapter. There's no way to mull over my next move because I have no idea what she's written. As a pantser, my brain feeds off what I've written previously. We're both adjusting to this rhythm although we need to pick up the pace.

Karen

We can plan ahead in generalities, but not specifics from chapter to chapter. You just never know what is going to happen. It is hard to think ahead on what we each might write. Overall, the frustration is offset by the excitement. Even though we brainstorm, the plot surprises make things interesting.

For example, I added a character in Chapter 2. She just popped up and will serve us well later. Then Susan used her for a scene in Chapter 3 that had me laughing out loud. Although we face difficulties a single author might not, we get to enjoy feedback and more specific help as we go along.

The Disagreements

Susan

Uh-oh. Early on, Karen and I had an alternate vision for an event in Chapter 2. We emailed back and forth, debating the issue. Finally, a research book I'd purchased gave us the answers we needed.

There's a lot of trust involved in taking on a project like this. It's a marriage of sorts and contains the elements of communication and working things out. (And prayer!)

Karen

We discuss the issue, examine it from different angles as necessary, and make a decision. Some of this involves more research, so we check into it and go from there. We are trusting God for wisdom along the way. I'm not concerned that any issues won't be resolved.

Susan here. So now you know what Karen and I have kept under wraps for several months...a collaborative effort on a novel. We'd appreciate your prayers.

Have you ever attempted a team writing project? We'd love to hear your experiences and tips.










34 comments:

Jan Cline said...

Im afraid I would drive the other person crazy. It would have to be someone I trust with my very life! You guys are awesome to try this. Keep us posted!
Blessings
Jan

Linda O'Connell said...

My very best to both of you. I'm not sure I wouldn;t go off in a completely opposite direction. But two minds re better than one, maybe.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

What a dynamo team! How cool. I wasn't aware you two were doing this.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse of how it's going.
~ Wendy

Karen Lange said...

Well, our secret's out! I think you are right, a little accountability is a good thing. Guess what I'm doing this afternoon? :)

Blessings,
Karen

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. it sounds interesting to say the least .. have you set parameters for how many chapters, for what the end result is .. ie what sort of ending are you looking at .. or is it 'all go as you go'?

I like how you've resolved the issues by each writing a chapter each ..

You're obviously enjoying it and that's the main thing .. cheers Hilary

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Susan & Karen,
I'm sure you two will make an awesome team. I think the world of both of you.
I'm a natural born collaborator, and I think - for me anyway - I'd love a relationship like this. Iron sharpens iron!
Best wishes to both of you. I'm excited to see what the Lord will produce through both of you.
With much love,
Susan

ps - my post on YOU is in draft. It is perfectly fitting with this new project of yours!

DenaNetherton said...

Gosh! More power to you on your duo project. I don't think I could do that unless I were collaborating on a non-fiction project, such as a how-to, or a Bible-based self help book.

Marja said...

I was just reading this on Karen's blog. You girls have guts!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Yay! We have a lot to do before the conference. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

Publishers require 80,000-100,000 words for a full-length novel. We're figuring on 90,000 words and dividing it by approximately 3,000 words per chapter.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

Oh my, I'd forgotten about that post!

Hmm, maybe we could do a non-fiction piece together someday. I collaborated with Jen and Rhonda on the virtual lunch post. They were an awesome team.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena -

I've done a few short collaborations on non-fiction pieces. The most "famous" was in Bible School when the teacher required we team up with a classmate for a term paper.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja -

LOL! Hopefully, the guts will stay where they belong, and this project will fly.

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jan -

I thought the same thing, but it's working out. I'll be taking our idea to a writers conference in August and see if we get any bites.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Linda -

Thanks! We're finding the story is taking shape as we bounce things off each other.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Wendy -

We weren't sure how things would play out, so we kept it under wraps. With the fourth chapter being written, we're gaining some steam.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Diane said...

Wow!So exciting and possibly nerve-wracking too! You guys must be best of friends with immense trust in each other to tackle this book in this way. Can't wait to see how it all pans out!!! :O)

Faith Imagined said...

That sounds difficult and fun! I can't wait to read it!!!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow, what a fascinating glimpse into your process! Sounds like a neat experience to share together. :)

Maria I. Morgan said...

Wow! This sounds like quite the undertaking! You ladies are two of my favorite bloggers, so I look forward to reading your collaborated-upon novel! Thanks for sharing the nitty-gritty with us today! God bless you both!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Diane -

We can't wait to see how it turns out!

Karen and I live in different states, have never met in person, but have talked on the phone. We hope to remedy that situation, but for now our communication remains email, blogs, and phone conversations.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sarah -

We'll see what editors/agents think of our combined efforts and story. Please keep us in prayer.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Maria -

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I've never written a historical, and Karen's never written a novel. This should be interesting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyrean Martinson said...

This just sounds like an awesome process for both of you. The more I've read about it - from Karen's post to yours - I think it sounds exciting and intriquing. Will pray for both of you and your project! Blessings!

kristen said...

(The above comment was deleted because I had two of your posts open at the same time and I wrote the wrong comment on the wrong page! Oops!)

This sounds like so much fun. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. I can imagine it being a very stimulating process to collaborate on a book. Built-in, immediate feedback. Gotta love that.
May God bless you two in this endeavor!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tyrean -

Thank you for your prayers. This is new territory for both of us, so we can sure use them. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

There's a lot of give and take in the process. Karen sent me her latest chapter last night. Now, it's my turn to jump in where she left off.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Fascinating! I think a team writing project would be a tremendous learning experience. I look forward to hearing more about it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rosslyn -

I'm finding it's a lot of work, but also rewarding.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

How utterly fascinating, you two!! Wow! I can't wait to see what comes out of this. You guys are something else. I'd deliver mochas to both of you as you work if I could. So consider yourselves coffeed in spirit, okay?

Waving and grinning,

Rhonda

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda -

Love your enthusiasm! Make mine a hot chocolate with a dash of French Vanilla coffee. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Jean Fischer said...

I've collaborated on nonfiction projects, but not fiction. How do you handle character development? When you create a character, do you also do a character sketch so both of you can work from that? I'm eager to hear more about your project. I'll send prayers your way.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Character sketches? Uh, no. We brainstorm, discuss, and then write. We have goals for the characters and try to put ourselves in their shoes. Of course, we have to modify that to fit the time period.

Blessings,
Susan :)