When we finished the Bonds of Blood & Spirit Saga, Packmates (the BBS fans) all raised a glass with us to celebrate the good news. Now, a year and four months later, we’ve completed Tau’s Pride Storms.
We’re well aware that when inspiration hits, we’ll be off and running like a freight train without breaks. But after we finished the first draft for Storms we had 120 chapters spread across over 900 pages that kind of fit. How can that be? Either it fits or it doesn’t, right?
Honestly, we started work on Storms two summers ago while Wendi was on family vacation. We were deep into Legacies edits and were stalled out because it was hard for her to concentrate in the midst of family summer chaos. Yet, we still needed to write. So we started on Storms.
Therein lies the good thing and the bad thing. On the one hand we had a great time and cranked out ten chapters. On the other, after the BBS saga was done, not a lot of it fit into the grand scheme of things.
I never gave much thought to the process of rewrites. Doing edits, tweaking the story and everything else is something Wendi and I do on the fly a lot while we’re writing. Sometimes we have to totally put on the brakes, go back to the beginning and tear everything up to get back on track—which is what we did for the next year with the material for Storms.
This is all before we get finished with the first draft and into an official rewrite.
The process for rewriting is going to be different for everyone. When you write solo, you’ll have your own method and don’t really have to answer to anyone but yourself for the changes you make. But a collaboration is different. There’s you and your partner to consider. And Wendi and I work so seamlessly I rarely pay attention to the how’s and why’s.
The Ultimate Secret of a Successful Collaboration
Methods of collaboration, much like marriages, come in all shapes and sizes. A collaboration is a very intimate and complex relationship. To have a good one, you have to know how to effectively communicate, know how to compromise, know how to listen and above all, know how to leave your ego at the door.
Most importantly, assumptions of any kind are a big no-no.
Here’s a prime example: When we were almost finished with the Saga, we were nearing the end of Legacies, writing the Big Ass Battle Scene. Somehow, I forget how it came about, we got hung up on logistics. Wendi said the kitchen in the farmhouse was on the left side of the entryway, I said it was on the right and the study was on the left.
Whoa…did our worlds ever explode.
I was really angry. “What do you mean it’s on the left? It’s never been on the left. That’s where the study is!” (yes, that was me). I couldn’t wrap my head around how she could possibly see the floor plan any other way. It devastated me having to think that this carefully staged image in my head wasn’t what she saw too, and worst of all, I had to change it!
That was when we both took a step back, stopped writing and started drawing everything from the farmhouse’s layout to the battlefield happening on the grounds around it.
Our rewrite process has been adjusted and we don’t move forward until we’re both very clear on what our expectations are. We’ll spend time reading through what we have, either together or alone, look for images to pin up on Pinterest, draw things out and share snippets of research.
For the most part, we change what we need to. When we get to a section we think the other might like a lot and not want to change, we ask first if we can make changes to it. A majority of the time we’ll say, “I like it, but I’m not attached to it. Have at it.”
And the other times? There’s nothing wrong with saying “But…I LOVE that part! How can we work with it?”
Sometimes it stays, sometimes it doesn’t, but we always talk about it first. We don’t automatically assume it’s okay to cut something out.
We’ll both read through it on various formats (in the doc, PDF, e-reader devices and printed out) and make notes. When we’re done with that, we’ll go through page by page and discuss what we need to do next, what gets changed, what needs to be beefed up or reduced and what ends up on the cutting room floor.
With us, it’s not so much a matter of who does what at this stage, that comes with the final edits and production. Wendi will usually do the bigger edits and rearranging after we’ve gotten a draft back from the focus groups and then I’ll handle the cover design and layout after it’s all done.
Even so, we still have a lot of discussions between ourselves for those portions too.
If you’ve never done rewrites with a partner, or for that matter, never collaborated before, take some time to talk with your partner. Take a good look at how you collaborate. Ask yourself, is this working for us? What would you change if you could? Would you write “together” more? Would you prefer more solo time?
Our methods may not work for you. We’ve spent several years refining ours. You may choose to try the Google Doc method and meet on a regular basis to get the book done. The bottom line is, find what works best for you and keep the lines of communication wide open.
Are you considering collaborating with another author? Want to know if it’s right for the both of you and learn more of what’s involved? Contact us today for a free consultation.