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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!)
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.