So here’s how Ann Dee and I wrote our first draft.
We were very, very organized. We met together for several hours, plotted carefully, wrote everything down. We kept a log of words, characters, events and both knew where the story was set so well we could see Riverside, Florida, in our heads like a picture. We knew (after our hours planning) the beginning, the middle and the end of the novel. We’ve had to do few corrections because of this.
Lies! Lies, lies, lies!
I never know anything about a book when I start writing. In fact, when I begin any novel, I’m feeling my way along, listening to the character, seeing if I’m interested in stalking her for 250 pages.
It was no different in this book with Ann Dee.
In fact, we started out writing a dystopian–each writing just one section (all about food, mind you). Then Ann Dee, who was uncomfortable with the topic because of world events, set the idea aside and started something new. (I think we’ll write that other book at some point. The idea is dark and different for both of us and we’ve decided we want to write the thing we aren’t as comfortable with when we write together. But we might not. Who knows?)
That first chapter came from her and I had to decide if I took the novel from where Ann Dee ended or if I backed up in time a little. Howq was I going to tell my character’s story when the novel wasn’t–at this moment–about my character at all?
Writing with Ann Dee gave me permission to push my character, push the situation she was in. As I wrote, as we wrote, we discovered so much. Daddies–all kinds of daddies–good, dead, dying, crummy. All kinds of mommas–neglectful, fat, liars, the kind that ignore problems and grandchildren, the kind that dote. Two lonely preteens who need someone and happen to find the wacky kid next door. Girls who search for mysteries and solve problems they didn’t even know were there or didn’t even know they had the strength to solve.
I lead the novel in one direction, and during our first gentle rewrite decided (after talking to Ann Dee), that direction had to change. We made the book more mid grade by cutting out that plot point and now, in this last rewrite we’ll make the book solidly middle grade.
What I’m saying, I guess, is that YOU decide how you want to write with your partner. However, I’d make sure that you and the person you write with are equally balanced. This isn’t a “I got an idea for a book, why don’t you write it,” kind of deal. You each need to carry the weight of the book. That’s what I found so cool. When we finished that first draft I was surprised we’d written 50,000 + words because the weight was equally distributed between us.
Ann Dee did worry a little more than I did. In fact, when we got through with the book I was like, “Let’s send this off to my agent for a read-thru!”
Ann Dee blanched. “Now?”
“Sure, why not.”
“It’s not ready.”
“I know, but it’s close.”
“But . . . it has plot problems.”
“Who needs a plot? We have these two great characters.”
So now you and your writing partner will work on your ideas. Will you plan heavily or just follow along and see what’s gonna happen? What are each of your strengths? Do you both love to write? Both write often? What is your partnership goal for this week? Ann Dee and I can’t wait to find out.