Thursday, April 28, 2011

Surviving Collaborative Writing

Writing isn't always alone...

Today we have Josh, one half of the Josh Langston and Barbara Galler-Smith writing combo for "Druids" and its sequel, "Captives." Josh will be talking about the ups and downs of writing in a pair. 

Why did we choose to join forces?
It seemed like a good idea at the time. We discovered, in the process of writing a dreadful short story and a mildly entertaining novella, that we had complimentary strengths. Barb is a wiz at setting; I have a flair for dialog. Barb has an excellent knowledge of Celtic history; writing plots comes easily to me. 

Together, we had most of the ingredients needed to put together a novel worthy of one's time out by the pool or under an umbrella at the beach. We started with the back story for the novella we'd just finished. A few years later we had four complete manuscripts. (One of which has nothing to do with Druids.)

What is the key to our success?

Aside from anything Oprah might provide, a successful novel requires at least three things:

1) A good story.
2) A good publisher.
3) Fabulous distribution.

(and the Oprah folks have completely ignored my calls).

How do we break up the work?

All four of our books began with a discussion of the story in its most general terms. We then developed an outline which laid out all the basics. We then expanded the basic outline into a detailed and quite specific plan which listed, by scene, what was to be accomplished, what the reader needed to learn, whose point of view is used, and why the scene was essential.

Roadmap in hand, we took turns writing the first drafts of each scene. Drafts were sent back and forth for corrections, improvements, and/or clarifications. Sometimes we sent them back and forth just for spite, but over time we learned that didn't accomplish much. Eventually we reached a point where we were too exhausted to argue any more and then deemed the work "done."

(Bio thoughts: My nickname is "Josh." My wife, my family, and the IRS know my given name. I'm okay with keeping it at that. I have committed several different professions in my life, among them: public speaking, fund raising, power tool repair, computer programming, business analysis, and cab driving -- though not necessarily in that order. I am married to a beautiful and imminently patient woman who loves me anyway. We have two great children, two uber-great grandchildren, and two mutts who think they're children. We spoil whomever and wherever it's apropos.)

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I didn't have any luck with Oprah, either, Josh.