Collaboration is not a four-letter word

My friend, writing buddy and business partner Bonnie Dodge and I have different writing styles. I mean, different.
However, we successfully collaborated on our new children’s book, BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP. The story is about a tomboy who dreams of being a daredevil amid the backdrop of the famous Evel Knievel jump over the Snake River Canyon in 1974. We were excited about collaborating on a project, and also a little nervous we might kill each other before the process was over. But we found a great way to work together.
Here is how we did it.
We came up with a thorough outline of the book. Namely, the important things that had to happen in each chapter to propel the story forward. Because of that, and to use a cliché, we were literally on the same page as far as the book.
We decided to each write a chapter. Because of our different styles, we decided against first person. We wrote the book in third person, in which we could more easily blend our distinct styles.
We edited each other’s chapters and then edited the book as a whole together, which also helped to blend our styles. This worked out well. Sometimes, we even had to stop to remember who wrote what. Bonnie and I have been critique partners for years so we also knew how to tap each other’s strengths to improve the chapters we wrote individually.
We knew our characters, both major and minor. We agreed on what they wanted and what made them unique. We both really liked and clued into our main character Billie. She spoke to us and we told her story.
When we disagreed about how a passage was written, we discussed the section until we could both live with the final outcome, which was usually better because of the discussion.
Collaboration is also helpful in that your writing partner may catch inconsistencies that you missed. Two pairs of eyes are indeed better than one.
We ended up with a great book that we are both proud of, and are still good buddies. In fact, we are going to collaborate on another book.
Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Filed under Archives 2014, Co-authors

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