Writing a Collab
So you're an avid writer, and guess what? You're BFF is too! How awesome is that? Of course, you both want to write a story together. But how? How do two people write one singular novel?
Fear not, collabs may be difficult, but they are not impossible, and often times, are quite rewarding.
It's all a matter of the three C's.
1. Plot COMPROMISE
-This is probably the stickiest part of the whole process. Because you aren't just deciding on a plot that YOU want to write; you have to choose one that your partner is satisfied with too.
So how do you decide what on earth you want to write about? Well, what kind of books do you both like? Historical romances? Excellent. So now you know what genre you both want to go with. What now?
Next you have to pick your setting. If you chose historical, would your story take place in Ancient Greece or Regency England? If sci-fi is your thing, you might have to decide between an alien planet, a space ship, or apocalyptic Earth. In fantasy, the both of you must join forces to create a whole new world.
And once you pick that out, it's on to your characters, which we'll talk more in depth about later. But once you have your main character/s who you know absolutely everything about, your plot should by now be developing. You should know what your character's goals are, who their friends and family are, and who is their absolute worst enemy. Their in a bad situation: you and your partner will decide what this is and how it happened, and who caused it. You'll decide how they overcome the obstacles in their path, and how they change throughout the story. Choosing your characters, and therefore coming up with a plot is probably the most difficult part of the process. Just remember, that you both like and dislike different things, and if there is an issue, you need to talk it out and maybe even make a few creative sacrifices.
Remember when you were a little kid and you wanted to play princesses, but your best friend wanted to be a superhero? Well this is kind of the same thing. Except now you're more mature (hopefully) and you know how to resolve the conflict without throwing a temper tantrum.
2. Research COLLABORATION
-First off, before you write anything, we must all abide by the age old rule: write what you know. And often times, this means extensive, brain meltingly tedious research. However, since you're part of a partnership, this means half the work! Awesome!
Actually...no. You still have to know absolutely EVERYTHING about what you're planning to write, so that means you need to be hip on all that research. So even if you split it down the middle, you still have to know everything your partner does and vice versa.
But! it's not really productive to do all the research independently, and have your partner do the same, so I recommend that you decide what each of you is in charge of. Once you know your responsibilities, get to work. And while you're researching, take notes. That's right, notes. Just like in history class. Why? Because it's up to you to find the most important facts, the most necessary ones for your novel. And once you complete the task, the two of you can swap information, without having to read a billion internet articles like you did the first time around. (Taking notes is even helpful in a solitary writing situation!)
3. Solid CHARACTERIZATION
-This is the most vital part of the process. "More important than plot?" you say.
Absolutely. Without consistent characterization, let's face it, you're book is going to suck. Royally. So how do two different writers create a character that stays the same no matter who is working on them?
There's a couple ways to go about this.
My personal favorite (and the easiest, by far) is doing a dual perspective. Each of you gets a main character which makes switching off chapters very simple. It also eases the burden of having to make a character sound exactly the same in your words as he did in your friends. But what about when the two main characters are together? Again, there are a variety of solutions, but the tried and true way that I've used many, many times, is an IM conversation.
You heard right. You hold an IM conversation with your partner during the pivotal parts of the story where both characters interact. Basically, a role play between the two of you. You write from Jane's perspective, and your partner write's from Sarah's. In third person, none of this conversation needs to be rewritten; in first, you may have to tweak your partner's words in order to suit your characters observations.
In every sense of the word, a novel collaboration requires teamwork more than anything else, and a willingness to listen. Working on a story together should never cost you your friendship, but you should never be pulled into something you won't be happy doing either. It's up to you to decide whether this method is really for you, but if you can work the kinks out, I promise the experience is worth the effort.
Good luck! Keep writing!