Here’s the third installment of our guest post from Molly Blaisdell about her 4-author collaborative book project with Chris Eboch, Christopher Cheng, and Louise Spiegler. Read the first segment here and the second segment here.)
Q: How did you keep the novel from dying or finding its way to the circular file?
Planning. We identified our strengths. It didn’t take long to figure out we were a bunch of history buffs. All of our published projects reflect a connection with history. We also hit our first snag with this connection. We don’t like the same parts of history. It took a stack of emails to land on an idea that we felt matched the innovation of our book – an alternative history of the world that brought all of our favorite stuff together. In this history what we really love totally converged. This synergistic thought process provided the engine that would drive us forward through our creation process.
Organization. As a group we took on different responsibilities for the project. We took time to develop a clear outline of the story action and then each of us developed strong characters that would draw readers in. We assigned editors and I took on the “master of the draft” job. I made sure that we always had a current draft that anyone could reserve. To succeed with this kind of a project, organization is paramount.
This is a clipped bit from our actual project agreement to give you a taste of what we devised in the organization stage. This was put together by Chris Eboch:
“Group Book Agreement:
Whenever a question comes up about the Group, decisions will be based on a majority vote.
Each Group member who works on the project from beginning to end will have an equal share of the project, and any proceeds from it (unless the Group votes to award a bonus to one person for special work)…”
Look here for the complete agreement.
Goals. Our willingness to live by real-time deadlines helped make this book fly. It wasn’t a perfect experience. We didn’t always make our deadline goals, but in each instance, we reset the goal to a concrete date. Thankfully, we are all writers and one thing we all know how to do is wait until someone gets back to us.
Q: What is the novel’s format?
Early on, we knew that to make this work, our novel needed to be interactive. We settled on an epistolary style to tell our tale. We wrote letters to each other, but also dropped in a few dispatches, historical documents, and journal entries. This turned out to be a great format. Each of us took on the persona of a character. We wrote letters that would reach the whole group and others that would only go to one character specifically; the other documents keep one character and the reader in the know. This format took on a very real feeling of four friends sharing with each other: pacts were made, arguments rose, friendships failed and were restored.
Next Sunday: Our final installment, with more about how the story and the writing itself.