If you thought it was difficult writing alongside the voices in your head then try it with someone in the same room. You can’t ignore a co-author by making noises, watching television, drinking, or taking a nap. Well, you can, but they’re able to move on without you or dump ice water on your head. So, it isn’t recommended that you pick a fight with them like you would with your characters. Here are some tips to keeping the bloodshed to a minimum.
- Unless it’s agreed upon, neither of you are in charge of the whole show. Decisions need to be shared or a system created to give each other autonomy. As soon as one author tries to take over the entire project, it’s going to fall into disaster. Something to keep in mind here is that you need to get your ego stroked while doing the same to your partner because authors, like most artists, can be touchy. We don’t have telepathy to share identical dreams.
- If something you really wanted was removed from the story, do NOT go on a crusade for revenge. Talk to your partner and see if you can find a way to include what you wanted. If they refuse to walk with you then perhaps the partnership needs to be worked on at its foundation. The moment you begin destroying what they like with no other reason than revenge, you’re done. Negotiation is key here.
- Communication is key, especially if you’re working with autonomy on different sections of the story. These pieces need to fit, so you need to know what is going on. Read each other’s sections once they are complete and before you move on to see where the story is going. This is a risky method of writing and can lead to an enormous amount of editing runs, but it’s been done.
- Never settle disputes in the following methods: duel at noon, drinking contest, steel cage match, slap game, drag racing, international scavenger hunt, or gathering friends to side with you.
- You have to pull your weight if you want your name on the book. Don’t hook up with an author who has the dream, talent, and work ethic simply because you want to say you published something. You need to be involved. This isn’t a high school project with the one kid who does nothing except put their name on the paper or supply cupcakes.
- Partners need to adapt their styles and techniques to fit with each other. If you’re a pantser and you’re working with a planner then you need to accept that there will be at least one pre-writing meeting. If you’re a planner working with a pantser then you need to pull back your outlining urges enough to let them go. Do not expect the other to jump to your way of thinking and leaving everything that makes them an individual behind. That will hurt the final product and eliminate whatever uniqueness the real combination of styles would have created.
- Whenever things begin getting tense, you take a break. It can be together to relax with a movie or going out for a walk. It can be alone to get your own thoughts in order and then return to talk things out. The chances of fights happening are higher than you think, especially if you don’t have a hierarchy. Keeping a partnership even only works with manners and open minds, so a collapse of that means trouble is happening.