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Don Perrin and Margaret Weis
Interview by Ciara Grey
Fiction Factor - As a writing team, how do you go about developing a new project and assigning responsibility for the writing?
Don - Margaret and I sit down and work out all the world details, and a detailed outline covering the entire first book (if not the project.) I go ahead and write scenes of a military nature, or those that I seem to write well. Margaret then writes the entire novel, end to end, and incorporates these scenes into the book, but making it sound like it comes from one voice.
Margaret - We consider it most important that the book have one voice. Otherwise the reader is distracted from the story.
FF - How do you develop new characters? Is it a team effort or do you each develop characters separately?
Don - Totally a team effort, although we find that each of us understands some characters better than others. I'll write scenes important to ones I understand better, and Margaret does the rest.
Margaret - Military people talk to each other in a certain way. Don is very skilled at portraying the way they talk, what they say, how they say it. He sets the tone, plus he has the knowledge of military matters. Once I hear the characters talk, then I can hear their voices in my head and we go from there.
FF- Do you ever have any problems deciding which ideas are used and does this create tension in the writing partnership?
Don - Yes, we do have our arguments, mostly over plot. I'm very nit-picky about details of troop movement and believability in military threat. Margaret's an expert in character motivation. Sometimes I need the story to go one way, but the characters have no motivation to do so.
Margaret - The most important thing is to have one person who has the final say. We each respect the other's opinion and generally we come up with a compromise. But if we do disagree, I have final say.
FF - On the business end of writing, who communicates with your agent and editor?
Don - Margaret does. I get on the line for conference calls once in a while, but I consider Margaret the "senior" partner.
FF - You co-write with your husband, Don Perrin and also with Tracy Hickman. Do you have a formal legal agreement with your writing partners?
Don - Margaret can answer that.
Margaret - The agency handles that for Tracy and I. Don and I are married, so we already have a legal partnership! :)
FF - Do you feel that for a short term or limited project, collaborative authors should have a formal agreement?
Margaret - Yes, if they're planning to sell something.
FF - What are the crucial elements to a writing contract between partners?
Margaret - Decide on how the money is split and how the credits should read. Also, if you use a pen name, who owns the name in case the partnership splits up.
FF - Is it easier or more enjoyable for you to work with a partner as opposed to writing on your own?
Don - I much prefer to write with Margaret. It takes a huge pressure off of me, and leaves me to create the parts that I do best. I'm a great starter but not a great finisher. Combined with Margaret, there's no danger of ever missing a deadline.
Margaret - I enjoy writing with a co-author and I like writing on my own. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
FF - What was your first publishing credit?
My first book was: A Biography of Frank and Jesse James, The Real Story, published by Simon ad Schuster.
Don - The First DragonArmy Bridging Company, short story in a Dragonlance Short Story collection.
FF - What advice would you give to our readers about writing?
Don - It's a long, hard haul from the start of a book to the end of a book. Discipline is the only way you'll get the book done. There are literally millions of "wanna-be" authors who start books. Simply by getting to the end of a book puts you in the top 1% of those writers.
Margaret - Keep writing, keep reading, keep your day job!
Margaret and Don
materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax
materiam possit materiari?
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