We were kicked out of a restaurant yesterday…politely, but kicked out none the less. We think we may have creeped out our waitress. We were there for a planning and plotting session for our newest project, a horror novel set loosely in our Riverside world. We sat down to breakfast and then jumped right into our collaborative creative process. The talk of murder and demons proved too much for our little old lady waitress and we were subsequently asked to move along to make room for other patrons (which would have worked as a reason if there were more than four other occupied tables in the large, empty restaurant). So, we left, but not without a grumble or two.
Despite our expulsion from the restaurant, we did have a very successful meeting. We have a very specific creative process, developed over the last seven years. (Wow, has it been seven years?!?) We wanted to share a bit about it as we’ve heard from others that collaborative writing can be a fraught enterprise that has broken families and ruined friendships. So far, we haven’t had that problem, mainly because we make our plans ahead of time and we try and leave our egos at the door. It’s worked so far, with eight novels and three short stories under our belt.
Step 1: We start with an idea. In fact, we have a whole slew of ideas we’ve written down over the years that we can pull from when it’s time to start a new project. We then decide who the main writer will be, who will be the main collaborator with the writer, and who will have first crack at edits, etc. It really does help to have defined roles in the writing process. We usually have two works in progress at a time, as that seems to be the max number we can successfully juggle and still get our work done.
Step 2: Once we’ve agreed on the subject, it’s time to flesh out our idea. We call it a story arc. It’s so much easier to craft a solid plot when you’ve at least got an idea of a beginning, middle, and end. Our story arc will identify our main character(s), the key premise of the story, and usually includes a precipitating event to kick things off as well as how we foresee the end of the story coming about. These are all subject to change along the way, we are not rigid in our processes and sometimes a story writes itself. That was what we were working on yesterday at the restaurant. Our story arcs usually run 1-2 pages at most.
Step 3: From the story arc, we build a chapter map. Our chapter maps are just that, a detailed description of every chapter, in order. It is a working document, also subject to much change but because we have it, we are able to pass off our projects amongst ourselves and still maintain some semblance of continuity. Yesterday, we mapped out the prologue and first ten chapters of the new horror project. We’ll continue to add to the chapter map over the next couple of weeks but because we have a very well-fleshed out story arc, this shouldn’t be too much trouble.
Step 4: Write! (Easier said than done, lately.)
We are very excited about our two current projects, one old that we’ve dusted off and the newest one we’ve just started to work on. Over the next month, we’ll also be uploading all our old works to Smashwords (they will still be available on Amazon). We hope the change of platform will breath life into them. They’ve been languishing on Amazon for a while now. We’ll let you know when those go live.
We hope to have more news soon. As always, thanks for sticking with us!
Anne, Nancy, and Eric