The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across a keyboard

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Are You Thinking of Co-authoring a Book? Info for Writers

Writing
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A few years ago, I met English ex-pat John Dolan on Twitter, of all places. He had doffed his Henry Higgins cap to explain to me the retweet concept when I was meandering around the Twittersphere as a newbie. Our personalities clicked, and we decided in short order to write a novel together via the Internet.

I thought I might lay out some of the barrels we needed to leap in order to help you make decisions should you ever find yourself wanting to co-author a work. If you are a reader you might appreciate the behind scenes foibles

Timing
I thought the hardest part of this experiment would be time. John and I had our personal constraints as well as the timing issues of a 9 hours difference between EST where I live and Dubai time where he was living. But that was the least of the issues. Technology issues were our #1 headache.

Trusting.
If either of us threw up our hands before we were done, then months of work would be down the drain. Make sure you have an exit strategy should one of you need to stop.

Picking a language.
John speaks British-English, and I speak American-English. Word choices, phrases, even spelling can become confusing, even if you are from different regions within a single country. Here’s a real-life exchange between John and I that actually made it into our book:

John: "Dagenham Dave" was a 'wide boy' in an Ian Dury song.

Fiona: OK I think this is fine but have no idea what a 'wide boy' could mean besides someone who enjoys too many pastries.

John: Continues Fiona's education in matters British: A 'wide boy' is someone who is an insincere person, a con-man, a snake-oil salesman, someone obsessed with making 'loads of money'. OK, Elisa? Yours, Henry Higgins.

Fiona: Thank you, professor. Can I take the marbles out of my mouth now?

Writing Style
I am a writer who has the characters and plotline basics in her head, and then lets the story unfold organically. John is a plotter extraordinaire. He kept sending me spreadsheets. To be honest, the first time I opened one, I broke out in hives. He had to coax me, like a wounded animal, into opening any others.

Specialties
Combining fortes produced what we think is a really interesting and unique work. I have a background in psychology, weapons, CSI, and fighting. John is a Shakespearean actor, musician, poet, who works with laws and numbers. We each wrote our strong points and did tutorials for the other. Once I even “killed” one of my adult children over Skype with a black magic marker. John needed to understand how the move worked and the victim's body mechanics. My kid #2 is a trained martial artist so she knows how to take a convincing fall.

A Meeting of the MindsBecause we discussed plot holes, characters, settings and all of the issues that make writers have to dump whole scenes, when we actually sat down to write, our first draft was pretty clean. We did do some rearranging and tweaking, but for the most part, we had already ironed the wrinkles out of the major issues.

Co-authoring CHAOS IS COME AGAIN with John Dolan was a fabulous experience. I had the most fun. I laughed so hard when we were working together that my sides hurt. Chaos Is Come Again is a psychological suspense, a mystery, and a love story, packed with irreverent humour, and viewed through the lens of obsession. You’ve probably never read anything like it
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3 comments:

  1. Fiona, I am so glad the elocution lessons worked out :) And may I say, what a tremendous amount of fun I had working with you. As soon as my psychiatrist declares me no longer on suicide watch and gives his consent to remove the straightjacket, maybe we should do it again. I have this great idea for a romantic comedy involving a two-headed giraffe who is lactose intolerant and addicted to blueberries...

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    1. Seems like a good idea. I'm going to make a potion of ice cream with blueberries on top and with an embedded radioactive benzene implant to induce mutations. I'm taking it to the local zoo straight away to see if I can transform a one-headed giraffe into a two-headed one. Also has a smidgen of planarian worm DNA extract attached to a virus. It should be easy. Although I think 5 heads would be the quintessential success with perhaps a long-necked dragon with earth, wind, fire, a water dish and a ghost.

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  2. ...and not a spreadsheet in sight! Well done, both of you! Now repeat after me: the rain in Spain...

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