Thursday, March 16, 2017

Writing with Riley: Collaborations

This week I'm going to talk about collaborations. I've co-authored books with three other authors, between the two names I write under. For me, the process has always been pretty similar, though I have to say that all authors do it differently. I've heard from authors who write at the same time in Google documents, authors who go by word count--two thousand words at a time, and I also used to be friends with a couple of ladies who were roommates and writing partners. They took certain parts of the book, like one would write all the sexy times and the other would write all time or whatever. LOL.

Every book that I've co-written has been a two character point of view book, and each of us has taken a different character. But, what you have to understand about that is even though one character is "mine" and the other is my co-authors, we are both still heavily involved with each character. We alternate chapters so even if it's a chapter in my character's point of view, I'm still the person who writes all the dialogue and action for the other character. That being said, we each have ultimate control over our character, so if I write some dialogue and my writing partner doesn't think that's how their character would say something, they change it.

When Christina Lee and I decided to write a book together, for personal reasons, we knew we wanted to write about mental illness, so the topic came first. From there we came up with specifics--boys who knew each other online when they were little and lost contact. I created my character's backstory, and she created her character's backstory. We have to discuss it, of course, because it has to fit with the story and we have to have a way for our characters to connect. When I wrote Weight of the World with Devon McCormack, he had a list of different book ideas that he shared with me. One of them jumped out at me instantly--a man who plans to commit suicide, meets another man on the roof, who talks him out of it and he later discovers the man jumped when he left. Filled with guilt, he searches out the man's brother but doesn't tell him their connection. I knew that's what I wanted to write and I knew I had to be the brother. Tommy's backstory came to me instantly. I knew that guilt of letting a loved one down. I understood the need to take care of those you love, and luckily, Devon really wanted to be the man on the roof. Everything fell into place from there. The difference here was there was a third character's POV, and we shared that. Some Rob chapters were Devon, and some were me.

Luckily, we all have a similar writing process so while we know our character's goals, motivation, and conflict, we don't plot out the whole book before we start writing. We have some key scenes, but then we just...begin. There's often those conversations where we're like, "Help! I don't know where to go next!" or "Wait...I think we should do this instead..." If we don't think something works, we talk about it, and I've never had a situation where we couldn't come to a conclusion we both agree with. There are also times we have to talk because we just don't understand something the other character did or we haven't fully grasped exactly who their character is, and of course, we just talk about it until we're on the same page. I couldn't write a book with someone I didn't know well or get along with well.

If you have any questions about collaborating, feel free to post them in the comments.

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