We are thrilled to welcome David Powers King, who collaborated with Michael Jensen on their new release Woven.
When it comes to storytelling, sometimes two heads are better than one. That was the case when Michael and I decided to team up and write a ghost story unlike any we’ve ever read. We spent five years writing, rewriting, and rewriting some more until we had what readers now have the chance to experience. We learned many valuable lessons about successful collaborative writing along the way. Thinking of partnering up to write a novel with someone? Here are five tips:
1. Have an idea that both authors are excited about: One-sided collaborations are dull, and it will show in the writing. Be involved in the creative process. Outline the story together. Brief before and debrief after each chapter. Encourage each other on a regular basis.
2. Know who you’re writing with: A collaborative project can bring out the best or worst in people. A good way to make your partnership work is to clearly define your goals with each other. Decide how you want to divide your earnings, the order of your names on the cover, who does what in your collaboration, and the means to leave the project if things don’t work out—and then get it notarized, even if this project is with your best friend.
3. Decide what collaboration style works for you: For WOVEN, we used the Lead Writing style, when one author writes the first draft while the other edits and rewrites as needed. You can also use the Turn Writing method, where authors take turns writing chapters. Or, if you’re together, you can come up with the text in the same room while one of you is the scribe, or take turns as the scribe. There are many combinations for any situation. Find what works for you.
4. Check. Your. Ego: The #1 killer of collaborations is ego. Writers can easily be carried away by how awesome they are. It’s okay, and healthy, to bump heads with your ideas, but it is very dangerous to suggest that you know better. Instead, focus on the story. What is the best choice for the story? Never take things personally and commit to work through it. You will soon find a solution better than your first ideas.
5. Spend time together: As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes a dull collaboration.” Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but it’s a good idea to interact with your collaborative partner outside of the project. Go to the movies or writing conventions together, and remember your partner has a life beyond your collaboration. It’s fun to partner up for a story, but it’s even better with a friend. Five years of collaborating Michael has “woven” us into a long-term friendship.
A good collaboration can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding experience for you and your co-author. Hopefully these will help if you are planning to write a novel together. Good luck!
Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.
Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld
Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen