I never thought I’d write a comedy or collaborate with another writer, but it turns out I might be doing both. Here’s how it happened.
I’ve finished another round of structural editing of my WIP and I’m currently doing a once-through scene-by-scene edit. Once I finish this, I’m trying to decide whether to send the draft to beta readers or let it sit for a month and have another read through myself.
Either way, when I finish this edit I will start drafting something new.
I’ve been thinking it will be the sequel to my current WIP, but I’m a long way from having planned enough of it to start writing, and it’s being inordinately stubborn about falling into shape.
So I’m open to ideas.
How it happened
It started with a tweet (@micah_chaim‘s not mine).
My first thought was “why would a talented and sophisticated writer like Micah who uses words like ‘epistolary’ (though doesn’t proofread his tweets) want to write something with me?”
My second thought was “I can’t write comedy. It’s so hard to pack in the density of jokes you need to be effective and to tell a good story at the same time.”
My third thought was “I want to do this.”
And the rest is history. Our book is coming out next week.
*Alecia wakes to find herself in bed being smothered by the cat*
Okay, not next week. But the tweet was real, and unless we kill each other first or encounter irreconcilable artistic differences I think we’re actually going to do this.
We have a kick-ass high concept. Micah sees deep social commentary and absurdism. I see a fun story with a great deal of silliness.
I can almost hear you cringing. Yes, I’ve read the advice and I know how badly collaborations between authors can go on so many dimensions.
Things that can go wrong: legal
We’re friends now, but how confident am I that would solve everything if there were suddenly $10M at stake? (Yes, I dream big.)
“It was your idea, you should get $8M.”
“But I never would have written it without your help. You should get $8M.”
“I don’t deserve that. I didn’t do it for the money.”
“I don’t deserve it either, and you did way more work than me.”
“So we agree neither of us deserves all this money.”
We end up donating it to a charity that finds loving homes for stray dragons.
And what about rights to the intellectual property? The world we’re creating has possibilities. What if Micah wants to write another book in it? Or create art about it? What if I want to create art about it?
You can stop laughing. My kindergarten teacher told me my stick figures are up there with Picasso.
Our actual conversation (paraphrased to the point of being unrecognisable):
Me: We should have a contract. You know, about IP and stuff.
Micah: I used to be a lawyer. How’s this?
Me: Way too generous.
Things that can go wrong: artistic vision
Lawyer stuff isn’t the only thing to worry about. There’s agreeing on an artistic vision, finding or forging a writing style that sings to both of us, and balancing deep themes with an entertaining story.
I have enough trouble agreeing with myself on my artistic vision for a book.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written and anything Micah has written, you’ll see we’re very different writers. Is there cosy cottage between our realms where we can live symbiotically? Or a hut in some land that’s foreign to both of us?
Him: *deep stuff with 15 layers of meaning and literary techniques I can’t pronounce*
Me: And then the cat bites him.
At least we agree it’s not going to be a romance. And there will be magic. Or is it science? Possibly we need to talk more about this.
Things that can go wrong: process
I still haven’t figured out if I’m a plotter or a pantser. I make detailed plans, write the book, totally change the book, go back and change the plan, change the book again…
For Micah, the magic happens in the writing.
What are the chances we can come up with a writing process that gets words on paper and doesn’t drive either of us to homicide?
We do have one thing going for us: we’ve never met and neither knows where the other lives. If murder happens, it will be very premeditated, and involve a lot of sleuthing and international flights.
But for safety’s sake, maybe we won’t share any more personal details with each other.
And that’s before we even consider all the usual challenges of writing a book.
Reasons it might work
He’s finished (and published) books before.
We’re both excited about the same idea.
I have a lot of respect for his skill, and he seems to think I have some.
At least, if it all blows up in our faces you’ll have the entertainment of watching the fireworks on Twitter.
Now I’m off to read about what else to watch out for in a collaboration and to study Terry Pratchett.
Would you ever consider collaborating with another writer? If you already have, do you have any advice for me?
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