Friday, July 25, 2008

(Today we are privileged to have writer Kassy Paris, one half of the team that wrote TWRP's recent release First I'm Nobody, as a guest on our blog.)

Writing With A Partner

Writing is a lonely profession. Usually. As writers, we lock ourselves away in some tiny little corner of our homes and slave away at coming up with the ultimate story idea. We dream of our books, plot them to death, scream at them when they refuse to come out the way we anticipated, and cry when the words won’t come.

We give up writing at least once a day only to sit right back down at the computer or typewriter or with pen and pad and start scribbling again the next minute. Why do we do it? Those reasons are as numerous as the number of writers alive and breathing. We each have a personal push to get words on paper and our name on the cover of a book or in large print as a by-line.

So, what would make our jobs easier? A template? For sure, and I believe they exist, but how boring would that be? When I taught elementary school, I discovered a web site that allowed the students to “fill in the blanks” and then a story would pop out complete and whole. Nice for a writing exercise in English where I was trying to teach my students the differences between nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs, but good for developing creativity? No. But what if you had a partner?

About 12 years ago, my best friend, Elaine, came to me with an idea for a book she had started. I thought it was good and encouraged her to continue with the work. Then she told me that God had laid it on her heart for us to write books as a team as well. She had an idea for a book the two of us should write. I agreed and a month later we took a short trip during my spring break and worked on that book. We finished Alaskan Knights, which is still waiting for a home, and started the next book. That one was followed by three more that have been completed.

What are the benefits of writing as part of a team? I don’t have to come up with the whole thing myself. I only have to write half of the book, do half the editing, half the revisions, half the proposals, half the worrying about completing the whole process and only have to take half the responsibility for rejections. Sweet, right? On top of that, Elaine and I write with more humor when we write as a team. We seem to springboard off of one another. Brainstorming ideas by yourself is tough, but brainstorming with two brains is fun.

The drawbacks of writing as a team can be huge, if the pair of writers isn’t careful. Elaine and I work well as a team because we think so much alike. We met as sophomores in high school and have been best friends since our senior year. The members of a team have to be able to give in at times. When you are writing, you have to consider how the other member of your team will react to changes. Thank goodness Elaine and I have known one another long enough and have a good enough relationship that when one of us is writing and makes a change the other is usually receptive and in agreement.

I would caution anyone looking for a partner to write with to make sure they would be compatible. In that way, team writing is like a marriage. Two seat-of-the-pants writers, such as Elaine and I, can work together well because we understand the need to let the characters do some of the directing as we are writing. When one of us takes a detour during writing, the other one is accepting because she does the same thing.

I think two plotters could work together well as long as they developed the outline together and are in agreement with the direction the book is to go before they ever start writing. For a SOTP and plotter to work as a team successfully without killing one another before the end of the project is almost unimaginable to me. I my opinion there would be too much stress on one or both team members. It could get really ugly. Shudder.

It took us a long while, but we became published. Elaine hit the published status as a solo before we got our fourth book, Her Home or Her Heart, published by Heartsong Presents in July, 2002. Our books number three, First I’m Nobody, and five, Redigo’s Choice, are now published and in pre-production respectively with The Wild Rose Press. Our team name is Kasandra Elaine, a combination of each of our names. Elaine writes solo as Elaine Bonner. Her third solo book, Sonora, came out with The Wild Rose Press in February. My solo career hasn’t taken flight yet, but it will one day.

I want to thank you for letting me step in as a guest blogger. Good luck with your writing careers.

Kassy Paris

You can catch up with Kassy and Elaine on their blog at kassy/elaine.


Nicola said...

Great interview, and lots of useful advice on writing with a partner. Thanks Kara for doing the interview, and thanks to Kassy for the insight.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Wonderful insight Kassy!

I worked with a writer on her first book and it was loads of fun. She'd start a scene and get stuck and I'd take off with it and then she'd finish it up. Or, she'd lament about how terrible a scene was and I could clean it up where it made sense for her to finish it up.

Great learning experience for both of us!

Good luck and God's blessings on your solo and team writing career!