I’m currently working on not one, but two, writing collaborations, in addition to a book of my own. It’s not exactly the most tenable, and I’m not exactly sure how I got here, but I love each project and am unwilling to let any of them go, so I will keep struggling through until something is completed.
What I did want to talk about was the nature of collaborations. (This post will be one on the creative process, so if that’s not your bag, feel free to skip it. I’m trying to write more, so hopefully there will be something of more interest next week.) Right now, I’m working with Kirsten McCurran on one project, and Max Sebastian on another, and I have to tell you that the nature of the collaboration are so vastly different—neither better than the other, just…different.
So the collaboration with Max first. This one takes a more traditional approach to collaborative creativity. It’s almost like a writing exercise. We went in with only a vague idea for a story (couple get lost, end up stumbling upon an inn set in a remote part of Massachusetts that’s, apparently, hosting a swinger’s party). I’d write a portion, then pass it along to Max, who’d write the next part. We’d riff off of one another, respecting where the previous section took the book. It sounds chaotic, but a pretty coherent plot usually emerges. It did with Out of His League, as well as the Parallel Lines books that I did with Ben Boswell.
Often times, authors will take specific character perspectives and write those solely. This helps with what can be a jarring shift in writing style. Max and I are trying something a little different with this one, written in third person omni, where we just focus on the story and where it’s going without worrying about character or perspective. You all will be the judge of whether this works!
The other collaboration is more unique, but one that Kirsten and I have experience with when we wrote Because He’s Watching. The book idea emerged out of the post I did a while back, called A treat for herself. As I worked the idea, it became clear that what I wanted to write was a cheating wife story, but written from the husband’s perspective. I bounced a lot of ideas off of Kirsten early on, and she wisely told me that for the story to portray the wife as anything but a callous whore, we’d need some insight into her own head. Naturally, I landed on this idea of the wife, Annie, keeping a diary. Kirsten offered to write the diary entries (and probably having no idea what a huge undertaking she was signing up for). This arrangement is working out really well, providing a fresh perspective on what’s going on with the wife, while challenging Kirsten to come up with the background for a character within the constraints of the general narrative.
This collaboration is bit different than the hand-off strategy. At the beginning, one writer (me) acted as the primary writer, driving the plot and the narrative forward as the other (Kirsten) reacted to what went on. But as the story hummed along, it became necessary for us to stop, put our heads together, and hash out what happened next, because while I’m in tune with the husband, Kirsten was intimately aware of the inner workings of the wife.
The end result, I hope, is an honest story about cheating and cuckoldry. Hopefully it doesn’t piss everyone off. It’s definitely a departure from something more straight-forward, like Following Temptation, but as a fan of this genre as much as a writer, I’m enjoying it.
So there you are, two very different experiences in writing collaboratively with another author. Look for these books in the next couple months (I hope!). In the meantime, pop on over the hotwifebooks.com and see what’s new!