Hey Space Cadets, today I get the privilege of bringing you a topic I’m interested in, co-writing. One of my blogosphere friends, Steve Beaulieu, is a part of a dynamic writing team, and he’s going to share with you his process. But today isn’t about my ramblings so let’s get right to it!
So you’ve got this killer idea for a story. You’ve outlined it…twice. Now you are sitting down to write it. The first several chapters flow like milk and honey from the promised land. It’s as if God himself was pouring words through your pen (fingers on keyboard) onto paper (hopefully something more like pages or word). Then the unthinkable happens. You get stuck. Nothing will come to you. Every thought you have, if you have any at all, are among the stupidest ideas a writer could have. They are clichés and predictable – you don’t know what to do next. Now what?
If you’re anything like me, this means that you stop writing and your genius book—your outlined masterpiece—sits untouched for weeks, months or even years. For shame!
My name is Steve Beaulieu. I am half of Hall & Beaulieu Author Team. I am guilty of everything you just read about (except maybe outlining…I hate outlining).
That’s the end of my infomercial-style introduction…let me tell you what has helped me tremendously.
When I met Aaron Hall he was just another cool guy at the church I’m a pastor at. He played guitar and bass, and I play guitar and lead the music at the church, so we were a natural fit. After a period of time his roommate bought an Oculus Rift—another natural fit for me. I love gaming, although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find time to play. After we were done checking out the nauseating wonder that was the OR we talked a bit about something else that we were both passionate about—writing.
Aaron has been a writer his whole life, literally. If you find yourself interested in his story, which is crazy cool, you can read about it here. I have too, but I never experienced the success he had. He may not have sold thousands of copies of his books, but he finished and printed nine novels. I had started and not completed twice that amount. As a matter of fact, I had/have a high fantasy novel that I started writing when I was 18 that is about 80 pages from completion that will likely never get finished all because I didn’t properly outline it and I had no idea where it needed to go next.
Truth is, it probably sucked anyway.
After he threw a couple of his books at me (his shortcoming is that he never tried to sell anything, he just gave it all away. He’s too giving for his own good) I offhandedly stated that we should co-write a book together. That quick remark led to a tremendous friendship and partnership that I never could have imagined.
I am an idea guy. I believe I’m a decent writer as well, but in my opinion, nowhere near his caliber. I have ideas for days that in order for them to see the light of day, I needed someone next to me to help see it through. Aaron has been that guy, and I’m pretty confident he would say something similar.
I know him well enough at this point that I could speak for him. Whereas his primary benefit to me was helping me stay focused and finish projects, I helped him to break down his stories and deepen the character and environmental development of them.
I believe anyone could benefit from some kind of writing partner. Maybe it won’t be someone who actually shares in the writing with you, as we do. But, instead, someone who brainstorms with you. We get together often to brainstorm our projects. It usually sounds like this…
“Maybe the main character (MC) would not respond well to the formula? Maybe they would freak out because their time in the laboratory reminds them too much of when they were in captivity at a young age. Maybe we just need to skip this section altogether and focus on the fact that he is currently standing in the middle of a garbage dump and there might be a little boy living there who is scared to death that there’s someone else in the dump.”
We bounce ideas back and forth. When typically we would have individually gone with that first idea, instead the brainstorming session led to the discovery of this little boy in the garbage dump. Just like in real life, our stories come alive…who knows what immense value this little boy will add to this story?
Everyone will experience partnerships in a(n) unique way. We do things a certain way, but it might not be what works best for you.
One of us will typically take the lead on a project. Strangely, our main project we are working on right now Brother Dust: The Resurgence, was my brainchild. It started out as a comic book I was writing and subsequently coloring. When things came to a standstill, this was the first thought I had when approaching Aaron to co-write a book with me. Main reason? I had a script with a full story in it that just needed to be fleshed out into novelization. He read the script and loved it. He immediately started working on it and I was in love with the work he did. He took a comic script and singled out a section of 6 panels and wrote an entire chapter on it. It was amazing.
Without a question, he became lead writer on the project. What happened from there was that he would write a chapter and send it my way. I would then “write into” the chapter. We have a cool benefit of both writing with very similar voices to the point where we forget which sections we wrote and which were written by the other. Not everyone will have that same style similarity. We did this, chapter by chapter for 25 chapters. The book is currently in editing stage.
Other projects, like our most recent release Sparkle Ship Shine, are done the opposite way. I lead and he “writes into”. This was a bit unique in that I decided to write a comedy, written in first person that turned into a witty horror story. 8,000 words altogether, about half of them are mine and half of them are his.
It’s been a fantastic journey so far. I don’t think I can name a single negative working with Aaron. Finding the right writing partner is like finding the right wife! Maybe not the same benefits though ;P
Sparkle Ship Shine is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
We hope you enjoyed this look into how other authors manage such a complicated collaboration!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section, or are photo’s taken by JR Handley.