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Over at 1stTurningPoint.com yesterday, Jim Thomsen listed some of the things he feels writers can learn from best-selling (and prolific) author, James Patterson. Citing a NY Times article by Jonathan Mahler he sets out some of the non-traditional, yet extremely effective, methods Mr. Patterson has employed to make himself by far the biggest selling author in America. 

 It’s an interesting post, but the thing that struck me most was the idea of working with co-authors (#4 on Jim’s list). In my Gentleman Jones days, I co-wrote a lot of music for our songs, but rarely collaborated with anyone on the lyrics.  

I can see Jim’s point about certain genres being ‘generic, homogenous and interchangeable, crafted specifically by their publishers to reflect the publishers’ sensibilities more than the authors,’ but I suspect I’m too stubborn to enjoy the process. I suspect that my idea of collaboration would involve me getting my way 50% of the time, with my writing partner caving in and letting me get my way the other 50%.

That said, a lot of folks, like Ilona Andrews and aprilhenry, for example, manage to co-author books, so it’s definitely something worth considering, though as I say, it’s probably not something I (or for that matter, any writing partner of mine) would enjoy.

How about you?

Would you ever co-write fiction?


Have you ever co-written a story/novel?


If ‘Yes’ would you ever do so again?


If ‘No’ why is that?

Never wanted to.
Never been asked.
Never thought of doing it before.
Never found the right co-author.
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments.


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( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 3rd, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC)
It's not something I'd consider - not because I think it's a bad idea, but because I have way too many ideas and demands on my time already! And to work that closely on something so personal with another person, you'd have to be pretty sure you could work with them over a sustained period. I imagine there are probably a lot of potential pitfalls involved.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I think I'm too selfish, and possibly a little too pig-headed to make it work, though I'm sure the right two people together could really come up with some excellent fiction.

Thanks, for the input, Naomi :)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
I used to run a small video filming business with a couple of other people. I suspect that writing is similar, in that sooner or later, one or other party realizes they're doing the lion's share of the work. This can lead to resentment when the profits/credit etc. are shared evenly.

Fortunately, the other guys left (we remained friends) and I ended up the sole proprietor, not that I ever made my fortune from it - though it did lead me to meet Senior Management, which is reward enough :)

Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I mean, I guess I would give it a shot, but it seems like a monumental task to co-write. I read that article about Patterson and it seems like what he does is just pass along outlines, have someone else write, and then edit. That's an alright system. I'm not sure how you'd go about it if you wanted to co-write more literally, say, in the sense of both people working on the first draft. It seems like it would make the process very lengthy.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine it's much fun to be left out of the plotting process. To me that's the best bit :)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 3rd, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
I co-wrote a story once for a web serial, by invitation of the series author. Our "co-writing" was essentially that I wrote a backstory for one of his characters, and he put it in a frame story. Unfortunately I didn't know that part and wrote my piece as a frame story, so it ended up a frame within a frame, and might have been confusing. Still, the tone meshed fairly well and he had a light hand with the editing.

I would not do it again because, frankly, I don't play well with others. I did that one co-author gig and I did a work-for-hire novelization, but I doubt I'd want to go down that road too far. I like having some measure of creative control, and that simply doesn't exist when you're playing in someone else's sandbox. I have several friends in the business who manage co-writing very well, and I admire them for it. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
I think it's great if you can make it work, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I suspect that my idea of collaboration would involve me getting my way 50% of the time, with my writing partner caving in and letting me get my way the other 50%.
HEEhee! I think I'd be like that too. Writing fiction with somebody else seems like it would add another layer of complication on top of the creative process.

In my Gentleman Jones days, I co-wrote a lot of music for our songs, but rarely collaborated with anyone on the lyrics.
My current band writes almost all of our music via a collaborative process, even the lyrics (our singer will just jump in and start making up words while the rest of the song is forming). However, he & our bass player (who does backups) often end up changing or refining the actual words later, outside practice. Me & guitar (the two non-singing band members) don't usually have much input into that later process. It's not like our opinions wouldn't be welcome, but... I dunno, somehow it's just out of our domain & we're fine with it that way....

But when it comes to writing, i want complete creative control. Me, me, me! LOL
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
I think music is easier to judge - it either works or it doesn't, but words are much more subjective (though that might just be me).
Apr. 3rd, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I have co-written a novel with a friend, and I'd definitely work again with that person. However I was also part of a progressive novel http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3067108 if you check out how many were involved you can probably understand when I say I wouldn't willingly do that again. Unlike an anthology where you are responsible for a complete story, you have no say over what happens before your chapter nor, if you add characters, what happens to them after. Although I was very fortunate with the artist they paired to illustrate my chapter *g*
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
34 artists and writers? That's a lot of collaborating :)
(no subject) - eneit - Apr. 4th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
I will go on record with an emphatic NO! I'm a perfectly happy follower, as long as someone is leading. If no one is leading, (or not leading as efficiently as I would) I'll take over--but then I want to do it MY way. It's how I ended up as one of the camp directors for Girl Scout Camp here in town. ;)

I don't even have to wonder if I'd make a good co-author. I wouldn't. I run with things. I have no patience for waiting while someone else does his/her part. I want it done NOW. And, like you, my way.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
'I will go on record with an emphatic NO!'

So, reading between the lines there, I'm going to go ahead and put you in the 'Not something I'd really want to consider' category ;)
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Apr. 3rd, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
I think some people are born colaberators and some aren't, the same way some people are cat people and some are dog people.

I would like to co-author something, but I haven't found the right partner yet. I think it would be fun to try.
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
Why not give a shout out on your journal? Maybe some of your readers might also be interested in it.
(no subject) - bodgei - Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Apr. 4th, 2010 09:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bodgei - Apr. 4th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
I like being able to delegate. My husband Stephen J.Barringer and I are very different writers, but our ideas can be dovetailed easily; he's really good at quick, raw input, and I'm good at the slow polish. We brainstorm well together. Given that the last thing we co-authored got into Best Horror of the Year 2, it's a partnership worth preserving.
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC)
Sounds like you've found the ideal writing partner :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
I had a wonderful collaboration with a friend and I'd love to do so again. If you find the right person and the right story, it's a great experience.

We sold the story, btw.

Apr. 4th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
'We sold the story, btw.'

Which proves collaborations do work. Congratulations, by the way :)
(no subject) - jdawson001 - Apr. 4th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 3rd, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I never really wanted to co-author anything. I wanted to write in the first place because it's something I'm good at that I can do alone. Very egotistical of me, but I want to write it my way. I'm a perfectionist and I'm not sure if I'd just drive the other author nuts. I would probably end up either wanting to rewrite everything the other one wrote, or just be jealous all the time.
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:28 am (UTC)
Re: I'm a perfectionist and I'm not sure if I'd just drive the other author nuts.'

Lol, I think I'm the same. I'm not sure I'm a perfectionist so much as I think I'd want my own way all the time :)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
I don't know why, but the idea of writing fiction with someone else makes me cringe. In a way, it induces the same kind of icky feeling as someone asking if wanted to try S&M or something of that nature. I know people do it; I just can't imagine ME doing it. Creating fiction gives me an intimate feeling of creation that I don't want to share. It's peculiar because I submit my work for critiques, but on the other hand, I have no commitment to take anyone's advice.
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC)
What have got against America's favorite spokescandies? Oh...sorry, my bad, I thought you said M&M ;)
Apr. 3rd, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of collaborating, but naturally it needs to be with someone you can communicate with very well, and also I think the collaborative effort should be a reflection of the writers' strengths. I'll be writing a story with a friend soon. It's a piece with two distinct POVs, both in serious peril and fighting for their lives. I know the guy I'm working with will do an excellent job.
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:34 am (UTC)
Much as you'd need to take care not to avoid trying to take over the process, I guess it's just as important that you can trust your writing partner to do the same.

Good luck on your colaboration :)
Apr. 4th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
I haven't co-written in an effort to publish or ever done so professionally.

In the instances I've had to co-write, like for a CW class, we came up with amazing stories. I use to really enjoy co-writing when I was younger. It was probably more along the lines of role playing, but it was a lot of fun. I miss those days.

I don't think I would do well at professional co-writing. I enjoyed the more turn-taking, role playing version of it. I liked the fact that our world was spontaneous and we had to act like people, because we had to deal with each other.
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)
Re: Co-Writing
About 50 of us made up a plotline for an entire novel aover the course of Jim Frey's 2-day workshop - well, maybe 20 or so (most of the others didn't seem to want to get involved).

I think it can work well at the brainstorming stage, but when it comes down to it, someone has to have the final say, I think.
Re: Co-Writing - lavericknine - Apr. 6th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 4th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
That's good if you've found someone you can write with. I hope you continue to work well together :)
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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