Co-authors on the rise

Co-authors on the rise

“Collaborations are routine in other mediums; screenplays are often written by committee; musicians write songs with a band. So why are authors less likely to work with someone else?” Mark Medley, They are not alone, National Post, April 27, 2013, http://arts.nationalpost.com/2013/04/26/co-authors/

 Make a writing group a permanent and integral part of your technique? 

Would there be more authors writing better novels if we understood the writing process differently?

 

The idea of the lone artist, struggling away in isolation in search of that precise form of expression is how we think of novelists today. But it’s an idea that is outdated and limiting.

 

Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk have always written together. Every novel they’ve produced, whether literary or romances they’ve written under a pen name, have been co-authored. Their recently released historical thriller The Wolves of St. Peter’s (published by HarperCollins Canada) is their third novel, and each review they’ve received says it’s their best yet.

 

Gina takes the praise in stride. “We’ve been writing together for ten years.” Their first novel, The Sidewalk Artist, was a lot of back and forth, with planning and writing happening concurrently. The pair would assign chapters to each other not knowing what plotlines the other might concoct. The Wolves of St. Peter’s, on the other hand, was all planned out before a single word was set down.

 

Editors will tell you that the line between editing and writing is far more nebulous than is commonly understood. Editors often feel their contribution to the writing process is under-appreciated and misunderstood. But with a writing partner, editing and re-working both ideas and phrasing is an essential part of the primary creative process. Maybe it’s time we stopped seeing them as such different tasks.

 

Once you change the concept of the writer as the lone artist, you necessarily change your approach to writing as well. “For us, writing is talking,” Gina asserts. Nothing goes on paper now until the two have  a verbal agreement, which she finds reassuring rather than restrictive. She appreciates always having someone around with whom she can to bounce ideas back and forth.

 

This works for their changing schedules too. At first, Gina did most of the “big chunks” of writing, and Janice would offer revisions. Now, as a mother of small children, Gina find editing and re-writing easier to do in small lumps of time. Janice’s children are grown, and while she has a fulltime job, her free time is now her own. Both feel they get more done working together.

 

According to Gina their personality differences benefit their writing. “She wants it perfect, I want it done,” she says. She hurries Janice to the quick pace expected by publishers these days, and Janice makes sure the quality is what they both really wanted in the end.

 

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