Desiree Holt On Collaborating Or Co-authoring: Is It For You?

Before you dive into a project that will have you working closely with another author, Desiree Holt aka Judith Rochelle suggests that you think through the details ... 

It’s often said that writing is a lonely profession because we do it in such solitude. Oh, we mix and mingle while doing research. Or with the members of our writers’ or critique groups. But when it comes time to click the keyboard, there we are, all alone with only our jumbled thoughts for company. For many of us that’s not only enough but they best way to do. But sometimes…once in a while…the creative spirit needs a jolt. And that’s where collaborating or co-authoring comes in.

It’s not for everyone. There are a lot of reasons why it might not work: different writing styles that would be difficult to blend, for example. Or there might be scheduling conflicts. You each have to do your individual work while proceeding with the joint project. Or it’s possible that after an energetic and enthusiastic start one of the collaborators might lose interest.

These are all things the require a lot of early discussion. And of course you should read some of each other’s work so you know the styles you’re mixing. But if you find a kindred spirit for a joint project, the rewards can be enormous.

For one thing, you will be giving your work a fresh voice. And haven’t we all feared falling into that trap where everything we write sounds the same. It also gives you a chance to dip your toe into a genre you haven’t previously tried but one that fascinates you. One in which your writing partner(s) are experienced.

Collaborating will help you give your work a fresh voice. You’ll engage in an active exchange of plots, ideas and characters, beyond what a brainstorming session gives you because with some else you’ll be creating something new. And learning to work together with another writer will polish your own personal discipline. To make it work you need a healthy respect for each other as writers and be willing to be open to the other person’s ideas of plot dynamics and character development. Together you develop a writing schedule that you both can stick to. And in doing so, you can refine your own personal writing discipline. This will help you grow as a writer, push yourself beyond the limits you’ve already reached and move to the next level. And if your styles and voices blend, then you are creating a whole new product that will reach your combined audience.

Your final step is to decide of you want to collaborate or co-author. Single title or series. One requires writing alternate chapters or alternate POVs. The other requires each author writing her or his own story but blending the characters from the collaborator(s). Personally I’ve found it rewarding both way. I have two series I co- author in which we each write alternate chapters. I’ve done series with three or more authors where we begin with a definitive outline, a basic plan to follow and make sure no one drops the thread as we move from story to story.

But together you can build new characters, a new environment, spread your wings as a writer and expand your reader base. This isn’t for everyone, for sure. But if you’re looking to grow professionally, be adventurous, this is definitely something to look into.

- Desiree Holt

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