Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writing With a Partner

Pantster and I are often asked questions about how we write together so I thought that might be an interesting topic for us to talk about today.

On our website we talk about our very different approaches to writing and life. "They  had no idea their writing styles would be so different but, upon reflection, they could have looked at their travel styles for a clue. Jean (Pantster) once got off a plane in London with eight dollars, an ATM card, no reservations of any kind, and vague idea that she wanted to go to the Victoria and Albert museum. When Stephanie (Plotter) travels, she arrives with a detailed concrete plan written in a notebook that she carries in a coordinating tote bag that matches her calendar and her shoes"

So true.. I like to know that the details are mapped out and confirmed, in writing, while  Jean likes to travel, well...by the seat of her pants. She likes the freedom to go where and when the whim strikes her, but I can't enjoy a trip like that for worrying about not having a place to lay my head. Maybe being a Christmas baby and hearing about how Mary and Joseph had to sleep in a stable created this need in me.  I KNOW I don't want to ever have to sleep in a stable or share a room with donkeys, sheep and cows!

Back to our partnership. This is how it works: one of  us will usually have a kernel of an idea, a character,  or even just a line of dialogue. Then we get together and toss around ideas for how it might become a story.  Sometimes they even start as a lark but then we decide that we like some element or another and the idea takes on a life of its own.

After we have the story idea we talk about major characters.  I like to call this part of our process, "Who is the bad guy?"  Sometimes our stories have actual bad guys.  Our fantasy stories, The Elven Brides of Lochmoor, have actual villeins. Well, one of them has a bad guy and one of them has a bad gal.  (I do love it when the bad guy turns out to be a bad girl!) Other times the "bad guy" in the story is the internal conflict tht comes between the hero and heroine.  Our contemporary Gone South series is this way.
 Jean thinks of this stage of the process as, "What would Tyden eat for breakfast?" because at this point she is really working to know the characters inside and out. 

After we have  the major characters and what they eat for breakfast sorted out, then we talk about the conflict.  We call this the "hurt them bad" part of the process. Our friend, the fabulous Lynn Raye Harris, taught us a lot about this because we just never wanted to hurt our people badly enough. We have finally resigned ourselves hurting them because it makes a more interesting story--so we just pile the misery  on.

The last part of the planning involves making diagram of scene ideas and some climax points .  When we physically start to write the story, Jean sits down to the computer and implements our plan.  She writes great scenes that get us from point A to point B, then sends them to me to read.  I read each and every word, usually twice.  We often take sentences apart word by word if they don't flow and feel right and word choice is very important .  We once had a two day debate over the use of the word "ass."  She won.

Our partnership works in a truly collaborative fashion.  We send work back and forth until we both feel that it is the best it can possibly be.  There are many projects in life that allow us to work with other people.  

What are some of the best partnerships you have ever been a part of?


  1. Oh! I am so with you on that planning thing, Stephanie. My planner matches my office...both being periwinkle, of course! And strange as it may seem, I just found my dream nail salon...their walls are periwinkle, too! (And they give a killer massage!) The only periwinkle shoes I've ever seen were Doc Martins. And though I love my Docs, I don't much care for patent leather. And they were, shiny all the way.

    As for best partnerships, hmm... I once worked with a woman in the non-profit realm that was everything I am not. I'm a planner, she was Queen of Go-With-The-Flow. We balanced each other like you and Jean. But I think the greatest thing about our relationship was that she connected with me every single day. Even on non-work days she made the effort to connect on a personal friendship level. And together, we rocked the house. We were of one mind and one purpose. It was a beautiful friendship, too. We don't work together anymore, but we do stay in touch. Not like then, but when we do connect it's as if time never skipped a beat. Love that woman BiG! :D

  2. Lesia,
    Isn't it great when you can work so well with someone. I bet that connection made you much more successful!

    1. It did, for sure! And thanks for the prompt...I emailed her after responding to your post. I needed that connect for the day! <3

  3. Yeah. I am all about the characters. I figure they will tell us what they are going to do. Trouble is they never want to get in enough trouble.

    Good thing she is thinking ahead on how to make them bleed.

    Oh, and she may not claim to be all about the characters, but mess with Farron from The Elven Brides or Lochmoor series or Nathan Scott from our WIP, Scrimmage Gone South. She goes insane.

  4. You make it sound like such fun! I can just see you two together. I have Something About A Bard on my to-be-read table.

  5. You both do such a great job balancing everything within your partnership, Jean and Stephanie!!