So, I was asked about co-authoring a book a while back. If I thought it was a good idea or something that I would do in the future was the gist of it. This isn’t as easy a question as one would think, but that could just be me. Once I get going with a story, I don’t really play well with others, which colors my opinion a bit. Still, you see it done all the time and it is successful, so there has to be something to it.
First, what do we mean by co-authoring? Well, it can be many things from what I’ve been able to tell. Some partnerships have each other write a section with it either being passed between them or done independently. Others have the main author and then the other will do the revisions. Some work completely together with one typing and the other talking with switches happening. I’ve even heard of authors who write scenes with their characters and hand it off for their partner to fill in for the other half of the cast. If the system works for you then that’s good. Some of these seem a bit clunky to me, but it really boils down to the connection between authors.
Artists in general can be rather egotistical and stubborn when it comes to their writing because they have a vision. It’s rare that the vision will match with that of another or be flexible enough to allow for a ton of input. Equal footing isn’t easy unless both parties are ready to give up parts of their dream. This is why it seems like you have co-authoring with one as the primary and the other as a secondary. The main one writes the story while the other adds in things to make it clean. Almost like a planner and a pantser working together if you think about it. You also have anthologies, which removes this problem entirely because each author writes their own independent story. Even with this, you tend to have 1-2 big authors to draw in readers and help the lesser known ones. So, there is a hierarchy at play.
Personally, I don’t think I’d be very good at this. I plan a lot of my story and then I craft it carefully, which is very much a solo process. I can do some give and take, but my experience in trying tends to make me apprehensive. Much more take than give from the people I tried to work with or they simply weren’t very good. Once in high school, a friend and I wrote a short science-fiction story with no problem because we were in synch. Every time after that became a battle of egos or the story was just bad. I remember one time I tried to work with someone who demanded a flashback happen on the second page even though we were in the middle of the introductions. Another time, a person took my entire idea and rewrote it to their vision keeping only two things. That would be the character name and him being a vampire. I wanted to do an adventure and this guy wanted to do social commentary on religion, so it fell apart rather quickly. Since then, I haven’t really wanted to try again because I’ve been burned a lot. It could still happen if I met someone who I really synched up with, but it hasn’t happened yet. Not to the extent where a project has appeared.
So, what does everyone else think of co-authoring?