More from guest blogger Molly Blaisdell about her 4-way collaborative writing project with Chris Cheng, Chris Eboch, and Louise Spiegler. (Read the first segment here.)
Q: What does it take to make a collaborative manuscript work?
No divas. This is not a type-A personality endeavor, either. If you have to be in charge of everything, this kind of project won’t work for you. It’s best if you understand the idea of true democracy, where everyone has a voice and that voice has something important to say. If you’re a team player, you’re a candidate for a multiple author book.
Beginners are welcome to try this, but it takes some writing skill. Be sure you have “mad” skills before plunging off this cliff. We have over 70 published books all together. Some of us have national awards. All of us have written many book length manuscripts. The plus of this kind of depth of experience is that we know how to work through all kinds of problems – editorial, story, and motivation. And believe me, we needed every bit of our skill depth to pull off our multiple-author book.
Last, a sense humor is a requirement. You need to be able to laugh off some stuff. Conflict is inevitable with four opinionated writers, and if you are a gloomy Glen/Glenda everyday, this isn’t going to be much fun for anyone. Keeping an upbeat, can-do attitude will make this kind of project pop.
Q: How did you set the project in motion?
The first thing that will open up a project this way is open communication between the participants. For us, this was an energizing part of the project. As the emails rolled in about our ideas, a swell of excitement began to build. With four imaginations at work instead of one, the idea phase was especially rich.
Another thing we did that helped this project take off was commitment to specific deadlines. We made long term and short term goals. Last of all, from the beginning, our goal was to create something that was centric, a fully fleshed novel, not a string of episodes. This vision is what held the project together until completion.
Q: What kind of technology did you use to create this book?
We call it the ancient technology of email and even more ancient technology of getting together over tea when we could, and if that didn’t work out, we would reach out on prehistoric phones. Over a two year period, we shared around 1000 emails with lengthy discussions about the shape and structure of our novel. So be aware at times this kind of project will be a time suck.
On Sunday: The answer to a big question: “How did you keep the project from dying or finding its way into the circular file?”