History of Bliss Part 1

People frequently ask us how in the world co-authoring works. Aren't there control issues? Or at least a lot more work? How do we decide what direction to go? From talking to a few people, it seems like each writing team comes up with a different system. (Sidenote: We do plan to interview co-author teams at some point. Stay tuned for details!) Here is how it worked for us.

Step 1: On that long walk on the beach (Note from Jenness: A seriously long walk. As in, my feet hurt the next day. Word to the wise--if you go walking with Tracy, wear decent shoes.), we talked out that little "what if" question, brainstorming and expanding it to a story we could work with. We were both on board and ready to run with it. (After Jenness bought new shoes, that is.)

Step 2: We divided up characters and came up with basic character sketches. Not Jenness' typical seat-of-the-pants style of doing things, but sort of necessary for tag-team writing. We wanted them to have consistent eye color, you know?

Step 3: We did research on how other writing teams have done it. We were friends and hoped to protect that friendship even if the co-author stuff went bad. Eventually, we found a contract online that we tweaked and signed. It spelled out things like whose name would go first on the cover (Tracy, because Bowen comes before Walker, which meant books placed with the B's would, on most bookstore shelves, be stocked closer to eye level). How expenses and royalties would be divided. Who retained the rights to the manuscript if we dissolved our partnership. Who had the final say if we didn't agree on plot points or whatever else. Etc.

Step 4: So all the preliminary stuff was out of the way. Now what? We weren't exactly sure how it needed to be done. Should we take turns writing chapters and then edit to make the style consistent? Or should we sit side-by-side and spell it out together? Or...? Finally we decided to both write the first scene/chapter/however far we got. Separately. And then we'd compare.

Step 5: Though we knew the basics of what should go in that first scene, we didn't have any set criteria, so the finished products were very different. What we discovered wasn't exactly earth-shattering. (1. Tracy was very funny and had great ideas. 2. Jenness, who had finished two novels at that point and had a published short story, was more experienced.)

As we worked on meshing the two scenes, we figured out a few things of importance. 1. Though we worked in some lines and ideas we really liked from Jenness' version, Tracy's take on the scene won. No real competition. 2. Tracy's scene couldn't stand as it was. It was funny, but incomplete. It needed to be fleshed out and fixed up. 3. This way of doing things--in the same room, one of us typing, the other staring over the typist's shoulder at the screen--would not work. It was a little creepy, to tell the truth.

We were going to have to figure out something else.


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