can write a book - but it takes something special
to create a best-seller
Lee Masterson's step-by-step guide can show you
how to launch your own writing career!
New ebook from Lee Masterson & Tina Morgan
can show you how! Click Here to Learn More!
Easy Way to Write a Brilliant Novel in 30 Days or
This Proven Success System teaches you to think
about writing from a different perspective.
Finish your novel in only 1-2 hours a day!
- Working with a Writing Partner
Writing is generally considered to be a solitary
occupation - but it does not have to be. I work with
writing partners on a weekly basis. While my non-fiction
is written alone, 90% of my fiction is written with a
partner or two.
With a close friend of more than 20 years (assistant
editor, Ciara), I've written a 140,000-word fantasy
novel, 5,000 words of the sequel, 20,000 words of another
fantasy novel and have outlines for four more novels in
With my senior editor at Fiction Factor, Lee Masterson,
I've written seven chapters of our humorous/sf novel. Lee
and I have only known each other for a year and a half,
and we've never met in person. Yet we write very well
together, our "meetings" frequently
degenerating into hopeless giggle-fests as we discuss the
next plot-twist or new character to be introduced.
Lee has a long history of writing alone, locked in a room
with only a computer and a hi-fi stereo for company,
while her family tip-toe about outside the office door so
as not to disturb her. She's never written with a partner
before so this 'collaboration' is a new experience for
her - (one
she is finding surprisingly easy to handle - Ed.)
Working with another writer is not an unusual occurrence.
Screenplays are often written and brainstormed by a team
of writers. Check out the credits of your favorite TV
show or movie. Most of the time, you will find a long
list of writers noted there.
But some writers wonder why they would ever want to work
with a partner at all. Indeed, there are many writers
whose pride would not allow a successful collaboration to
work for them. The vast majority of fiction-novel writers
fall into this category. Their manuscript is their baby,
and writing is an intensely personal experience for them.
Let's look at some reasons why a partnership can be
A lot of writers complain about not being able to finish
longer works like novels. Often this is because they are
stalled by a gap in the plot or characterization. Having
a partner to read over your work and make suggestions can
get you moving again on a story you had given up for
There is also a certain rush from bouncing creative ideas
around in a group or with one partner. Brainstorming is a
common practice in research and development in a lot of
companies, in advertising, in screen writing (for big and
small screen). It can work for you in your writing as
Working with a partner is not quite as easy as choosing
your favorite author and inviting them to jump into your
fictional world. You do need to have a few ground rules
in mind before you jump in alongside another creative
mind. You also need to build a relationship with that
I am not implying that you need to be best friends and
share life experiences. But you will need to recognize
the professional ability of a partner who has similar
goals as you do. You will also need to realize that every
person is different, and the input that person has is
likely to differ from your own. Respect those
differences, and your writing will be richer for it.
Often a second opinion can help to clarify any plot
inconsistencies or spelling errors, pick up any
uncharacteristic actions from your protagonist, and
generally help to keep the story on the right track. It's
much harder to deviate from a set plotline when another
writer is already involved with the story with you.
When choosing a writing partner, you should also consider
the aspirations of the author you select. Is the person
writing for fun or profit, and does this match what you
have in mind for the final product? Will you be proud to
present the finished work with all names (or a
pseudonymous representation of all names) on the cover,
equally responsible for the creation of the manuscript?
The most important factor in writing as part of a
collaboration is the ability to trust and rely on your
~ With your creative vision.
~ To carry their share of the workload.
~ To be able to compromise and settle conflicts.
~ To handle the story with their own style and creative
~ To bring a unique perspective to your story
how do you go about finding a suitable writing partner?
One of the best places to look is an online writer's
group or workshop. This type of forum gives you a chance
to get to know other writers and evaluate their style of
writing before jumping into a partnership.
However, before your collaborative efforts begins, you
also need to set a few simple ground rules:
1) Who will be
responsible for writing each portion of the story/novel?
Will you write this together? During phone conferences,
in person or through Internet chats? Will each person
write a chapter at a time? Will one partner do most of
the writing and the other partner follows behind doing
clean up and any rewrites that the story requires?
Set a deadline for each portion of the story/novel.
When one member of the team falls behind, it can be
frustrating for the other to wait until they catch up.
Alternatively, working too far ahead of the deadline can
be just as frustrating as lagging behind. This should be
a team effort - the entire team should be working to a
schedule that mutually suits you.
3) Any editing or
alteration of the manuscript or characters should be
agreed upon (where possible) by all authors.
4) Have a written
agreement for how payment for the story/novel will be
divided. This should be decided up front and before any
writing is done. If this can't be agreed upon then there
is no point to writing together. You won't be able to
market the work without a legal battle.
5) Decide who gets
control of the finished work, who will be responsible for
marketing the work and where. Who will find an agent,
editor or publisher for the work?
Writing is deeply personal for a lot of writers and
allowing another person in on that creative process isn't
easy. You have to be able to communicate your desires and
ideas for the shared work. Then you have to be willing to
trust the other writer to have the best interests of the
writing in mind when they make suggestions. This isn't a
time for egos, but a time to share equally.
Writing with a partner isn't suited to everyone. If you
are the type of writer who needs to control every aspect
of your writing and don't want to share your plotlines or
characters then you probably may not be able to work
successfully with another writer. If you find it
difficult to accept suggestions and changes to your work,
then working with a partner may be more frustrating than
It doesn't matter how good of a friend you think you've
found - if you set the ground rules before you start then
there is very little room for miscommunication that could
cause hard feelings and ruin not only the friendship but
the writing partnership as well.
Some of the rules can be flexible. If you find it's not
possible to write the story together at the same time,
then switch to writing alternate chapters, and perhaps
editing through the completed chapters together. Most
writers are going to have a difficult time writing
together one sentence at a time, and the alternating
method will work best.
A collaboration can teach you much about your own writing
and can be a very rewarding experience - both for you and
for your writing career. Just be sure you look carefully
before you leap!
Copyright 2002 Tina Morgan