Tag Archives: writing novels

The One About Co-Writing (Part Two)

7 Aug

And then they… no, they didn’t dance. They finished the one about co-writing.

 

6. Discuss the Book and All Future Plans for the Book Frequently. This may seem like a weird thing to do at first, but I promise it’s worthwhile. No one will be more supportive of you and your future (obviously awesome) fandom than your co-author. So talk about it. Where do you want this book to go? What are your dreams? If your dreams are as bad as Flynn Riders, then come up with some better ones. While it may seem like you’ll never get anywhere, laughing about who you think your readers will ship in the future and drooling over certain publishing companies will help not only to set your standards of achievement high, but it will also make you and your co-author closer. Along those same lines, you’ll establish similar aspirations for the book. This is very important. If you’re envisioning yourself as the next New York Times Best Seller and your buddy is really just wanting to write a story to share with the family, then he or she might not be so inclined to slave over the manuscript like you are. Talking about where you want to go with the book will also help you tackle the big discussions in chunks instead of all at once. Do you want to have more than one main character? How long of a book are we talking? Do we want to make this into a trilogy? A saga? A series? Multiple series? When should we draw the line and maybe move on to other things? Brooke and I went through this a lot with our “cycle” WilderQuest. A lot of times, we let all of our gushing ideas accumulate for months before we addressed them, and because of that, our ideas would often clash and clash hard. Again, communication is the key.

 

7. Keep the Book Consistent. What tense? What point of view? Formatting. It is a big deal. Let no one tell you otherwise. Ever. Because it is a big deal. Especially if one of the people involved is OCD. That was me, Sarah, if you were wondering. This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind while you are co-writing. A lot of times, you and whoever you choose to write with will have very different ideas of how things should look. In fact, your styles will likely be very different as well. And although it can become a really big road-block if you let it, there are a lot of ways to avoid locking up over inconsistencies. This may end up requiring you teach a few Microsoft Word short cuts to your authoring compatriot or sacrifice your own ideal title headings for ones that your buddy likes more. Again, be ready to compromise and work through the problem with God’s grace and serenity. Agree on and then set up a chapter template, make character description sheets up, and share what you think about each others’ writing. Brooke and I often talked through inconsistencies that arose, making notes of some character’s preference for certain things and also how to properly indent paragraphs. And more often than not, all that was needed was brief clarification. Here’s what happens when you don’t do this:

“Evangeline huffed in irritation, glaring at Liz with her cold, dark brown eyes.” — Chapter 2, written by Sarah

“Evangeline’s bright blue eyes flashed; fear was evident in her face despite the chaos of battle.” — Chapter 11, written by Brooke

See the dilemma? While these sentences didn’t actually come straight from WilderQuest, this very thing actually did happen. You’ll find that you and your friend will likely have characters that the both of you created almost entirely by yourself, or you’ll come up on a part in your book where one of you planned out the battle scene to the gory details. These aren’t bad things, but always keep in mind that the other person working with you is probably not telepathic. If you have things planned out to the very last dotted i on the page, be sure to share this and be willing to compromise if your better (writing) half has an idea. Plot bunnies multiply exponentially where inconsistencies are, and no one wants to have to chase all those fluffy mongrels off.

 

8. Make Achievable Goals. The word “achievable” here is very important. Goals will be the things that help propel you through the tough times of novel writing and also push you to the breaking point, and goals will also often be a test of your teamwork finesse levels. Whether it’s a goal to reach a certain word count, write a certain number of chapters in a week, or a setting and meeting a certain dead line, you will find that it is very important one, that these goals that you set can actually be achieved, and two– without butting too much into the next point, that you encourage your friend to meet the goals that you do set. Seriously, just knowing that someone else who you know is human (because who can be sure about these big time author people) tacking a crack at reaching that really hard goal will help you to do better, even if you don’t achieve that goal in the end. Granted that nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing that you and your writing compadre have reached a goal on time. So strive to meet those goals. Or make a point to laugh about them later. Both are pretty enjoyable, although one of them is decidedly more productive.

 

9. Encourage One Another in Writing and in Life. This is definitely the biggest benefit of writing with another person. Although, undoubtedly, you will have your ups and downs, good days and days that main characters end up in dark pits being tortured to death, you will also have days that you finally pull out of your writer’s block and the first person to throw you a party and send you cake is your co-author. Days that you’ll disparagingly decide that your novel will never go anywhere and you might as well stop now and take up some profitable career now like your mom has been telling you to for the past sixteen years and the one to dispel all that is your wonderful, high-spirited writing buddy. In fact, you’ll find that the friends who write together, often stay together. Like, seriously, Brooke and I have been life-buddies since the tender age of two. There is something about spinning a tale with another uniquely amazing individual that is really pretty awesome in-and-of itself, and you will likely discover that the people who “get you” the best are the people that you write with. So, with this pretty awesome relationship in mind, don’t overlook the importance of daily making an effort to build each other up and encouraging one another to strive for each of your “bests” — whatever that best looks like. And if you’re pen pal is just having a rough go of it in general, be there for them– pray for them. Trust me, riding through the storms of life with someone is one sure way to ensure that when you write together– it’s just that: together.

 

10. Co-Writing Can Be Lots of Fun. So Enjoy It. One of the best feelings you’ll have while co-writing is the moment when you and your friend finish a book, and you read back through it and realize that you’ve shared a very unique part of yourself with another person who feels the same way. I have learned so much from co-writing and continue to learn about not only my own style and abilities, but also about other people and how to best interact with others. Truly, nothing will improve your writing as quickly as working together with other talented individuals because you will find yourself wanting to put forth your best so that they will do the same. Instead of standing on the precipice of a new novel alone, you will be standing with a friend and fellow warrior. Some of the best memories I have are from late-night role-playing sessions, really, freakishly long book planning discussions, and the intermittent moments of shared insider jokes and character impersonations. So have fun with it. Co-writing is probably one of the most fun things you’ll do. And while it does take a lot of work on the outset, the rewards that you reap in the long run will far exceed the little troubles that you go through at the start.

 

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Well, there’s our take on co-writing. Did you think of something that we missed now that we’ve reached the end? Think that you could explain one of the points better? Have a story to tell that fits one of our ten points? Tell us about it in the comments below!

New Contact Form

7 Aug

Hi, guys!

We just want to let you know that we have a new feature of EEB! You can now find our contact form in a drop-down menu from the “About” page at the top of the webpage. We are super excited about this, because, although we had a contact form before, we really would like to encourage y’all to submit questions about writing, faith, and life in general! You now can have a significant impact on what kind of posts we put up there.

You're going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

You’re going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

Now, we are, of course, going to continue with our usual posts and writing updates (and probably come up with some fun, random posts too — *spoilers* Sarah’s been thinking about starting a serial on idioms in the English language), but we are also super excited about building a community of writers who are for the kingdom of God! This is why your input is super important. You are all what makes this blog so much fun to write, and as a team we want to keep building up our relationships with you guys!

So don’t be afraid to drop us a line– even if it’s just to say hi. You guys are awesome, and we are excited about this new opportunity for us to all grow closer together.

 

-the EEB Writing Team

 

The One About Co-Writing (Part One)

4 Aug

A couple weeks ago, we received a request from Victoria W. :

“I have a question. I’ve been considering finding co-writing with someone on this story idea I had. There’s just one problem: I’ve never co-written anything and I don’t know how! I was wondering if you lovely ladies had any tips and/or guides that can show me how to get this up and off the ground. 🙂 “

And because we are the prosaic writers we are who can, of course, never do anything with brevity, we have elected to endow you with the knowledge which has come from many years of struggle and strife via a two-part blog post. Kidding. Co-writing is the best.

That being said, there are a great many things that one should be prepared to do in order to reap the most benefits from your collaborative project.

 

1. Everyone Has a “Chapter 10.” This is probably the most negative thing that we have to share, but it is a necessary thing. Your co-writing relationship will be tested. And tested a lot. One of the ways that this relationship will be tested is when you have a disagreement about plot. Or grammar. Or feels. Or characters. Or you find out that your plot has been breeding cute, little fluffy bunnies for months. It just happens and cannot be avoided. So when that time comes, ride through it with as much grace and serenity as God is willing to provide and hope the both of you are alive to tell the tale later on. Kidding. It’s only almost that bad. Brenna and I had a “Chapter 10,” Brooke and I had a “Chapter 10.” And look, we’re not too much worse for the wear. When you do hit your “Chapter 10,” get outside advice and make sure to set aside time to clearly articulate your feelings and opinions. Not in rant form. Because rants get no one anywhere ever. (Passive aggression is also not advised.) Be sure you are ready to compromise or even allow the other person to have what they want. With this attitude, you will conquer many a novel-esque conflicts with the maturity of a professional.

 

2. Establish a System. What is your POA (or Plan of Action for you non-military acronym learned people)? How are you going to write the book?  How are you going to edit the book once its done? These are important questions which you should assuredly have at least tentative answers to going in. Brooke and I, for all of eternity (we’re not that old; I’m kidding), have been using an outline method with alternating POVs (points of view). Meaning that, when we started a new book or series, we sat down at our laptops and talked on the phone for six hours writing an albeit, tentative, semi-comprehensive outline that featured an alternating pattern between two main characters. Now, as we have matured, we have brought in more main characters and story-telling devices, but the basis remains the same. Find something that works for both you and your co-writing compadre and stick to it. We would not suggest flying by the seat of your pants (by the way, if you want a history of this phrase, which Brooke and I discovered while writing this post, click here.) By assigning chapters and working through the plot at the beginning, you will be better prepared to edit and change the ideas you have because of the basis already established. Whatever it is that you choose, be sure that it is consistent and that everyone is on the same page to ensure that the beginning of your partnership is as smooth and well-organized as possible. This will prevent a lot of hick-ups in the long run, while also serving as a point of reference for the rest of writing project.

 

3. Communication Is the Key That Opens the Door to Success. While this is, in fact, an FFA metaphor from Success Conference, it is also true of most endeavors which require the cooperation of more than one individual. We are people. We have different ideas. Different imaginations. Different schedules. Different stress levels. Seriously, we’re different, yeah, we’re different. And admit you just sang that in your head. So communicate about all the things. Even if its just the fact that you’ve gotten a new hair cut (Skype is a great way to show that off, by the way). Keeping your writing buddy aware of the goings on in you life while also letting them inform you about theirs will ensure that you aren’t surprised when they drop off the face of the planet for a week or two because school started, they went on vacation, etc. This will also ensure that when problems arise, your first reaction is to talk it out and make the situation clear. Because you are a writer, you will assume the worst, and things bound out of proportions in your brain all the time. So be swift and poignant when you communicate. Have fun with it. If you characters are making snide comments, share the snide comments. If you had an idea for a plot twist, by all means share the plot twist (and don’t hide it from your co-author either, because that makes for bad ju-ju). Have an idea for feels? Share! You’re in the adventure together, so share stories like you’re around a campfire and plan out the next steps of your quest carefully. When things pop up or a brilliant idea hits you, talk about it. Also, don’t be afraid to laugh about your mistakes, remind your co-author of past insiders, and do some good ol’ fashioned catching up every once and again. You will likely get tired of the plot at some point during the writing process, and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t deviate so far from the book that you’ll never feel motivated to write about it again, but take breaks to just talk. Communication is very important. Do not forget this. Ever.

Ever.

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4. Assign Separate Duties. So you’ve got a plan. Great. What now? Perhaps one of the hardest things to do when collaborating with someone else is assigning duties early on. At this point, you’re probably still trying to preserve whatever delicate sliver of sanity you have left because writing, and actually calling things as they are and giving tasks is a lot like acknowledging the crazy. This is perfectly normal. However, forgoing assignments is a lot like forgoing studying before a big test. There’s a chance you might still pass through the valley unscathed, but you’ll be much more prepared to take on the world and ace that thing if you study. Similarly, you’re a lot more likely to succeed with your novel-writing endeavors if you take the time and say, “Okay, I’ll do [x, y, and z]. How about you do [a, b, and c]?” Brooke and I did this and still do this (on the aforementioned six-hour long phone calls). After brainstorming and building up a plan, we would then assign chapters. Sometimes we alternated. You take even, I’ll take odd. Sometimes we bartered. And sometimes, I was a stupid-head and took all of the battle chapters and left Brooke with all the infamous “journey” chapters in which pretty much nothing ever happened ever. But, the duties go beyond just who is going to write which part of what chapter. Duties can also include who is going to keep up with all of the documents, combine the book as we go, process ideas and jot them down, keep a character journal, buy snacks or appropriate instrumental writing music. Anything that is a high priority for you and your writing friend should be listed out and assigned. This cultivates security and eliminates some of the awkwardness of first starting a project. Something else to note here is that everyone is not meant to be the quarterback of the team. Meaning that you and your writing buddy need to figure out what your combined strengths and weaknesses are before you assign responsibilities. For example, I might not give Brooke the task of keeping up with all the documents because her computer has been known to get viruses and crash. Likewise, Brooke would not give me the more romantic chapters of the book because she knows I don’t write romance very well. By making sure that everyone has a manageable task to conquer at all times, you will ensure that there is always something that each of you can be working on independently from one another without piggy-backing on one or the other author too much.

 

5. Balance Out Those Assignments. You remember the thing I said about the battle chapters? Yeah, so you’re going to want to write all of the really exciting chapters. But so does your co-writing compadre. What? What do we do now? Balance. If one of you gets a journey chapter, the other gets a journey chapter. If one of you is keeping a character journal, the other should be keeping a plot journal. Be just and fair in your dealings. Believe me, you friend will know if you’ve given him or her the short end of the deal and now they’re having to write about the seven-hundred mile trek all by themselves while you’re off frolicking with your climax chapters and battle scenes. You will also both then establish skills in multiple areas. A lot of times, the reason we don’t want to write a certain type of chapter is because we are unfamiliar with it and aren’t sure how to handle it. Here is a benefit of having a partner in crime. Sometimes, you’ll find that what you are good at writing, the other person is not. And what you struggle with, they do not. Use each others’ skills to cultivate new and improved abilities that will stick with you through the rest of your writing career. While it may seem like a lot of prep work before you get started, you will find that the more you do it, the easier the balancing becomes and the more fun you’ll have writing with a friend. Besides, no one wants to be writing buddies with a  battle chapter grubber. They’re just no fun at all.

 

Hope these little tid-bits of the trade helped answer your question– or at least get you started in the right direction, Victoria! We’ll be posting part two of this article very soon, so keep an eye out. And if you have a question, comment, or something to add to what we’ve said above, put it in the down-below! We’d love to hear about your own experiences in co-writing and maybe some pointers that you have picked up along the way.

Sarah’s House June 2014

3 Jun

So, in case you were not aware, the EEB crew doesn’t get to meet up very often. In fact, Sarah and Brooke have never even met Brenna in person. Which of course means Sarah imagines her being a taller than she actually is. We usually make up for this by Skyping each other frequently, phone calls, and even using snail mail. (Sarah literally obsesses over mail. It is one of her favorite things.) When we do meet up for the day, though, there is always a lot of excitement.

Yesterday was no different as Brooke and Sarah met up for the first time since Sarah’s 16th birthday in January. After a day filled with discussing previous writings, the odd art of creating villains, and laughing at the Fourth Wall, we pulled out the nerf swords and did some dueling. Now, we are obviously no trained swordsmen and likely broke ever rule of conduct and form in the history of the world, but it was still a lot of fun to pretend and imagine our own characters as we dueled.

We finally rounded out the day with a trip to Fox’s Pizza, a small, very Southern pizza joint near Sarah’s house which makes some killer pizza and also has one of those Coke machines that lets you choose from pretty much every soda ever invented. Those things are awesome. And granted there were no tears as the Norris’ left to go home, there was quite a lot of hugging and shoulder punching and drawn-out fare-welling to make up for it.

Sarah will be posting some of the duel videos to YouTube later today, so keep an eye out! If you didn’t know, EEB now has it’s own YouTube channel, EEB Writing.

Let the duels begin!

REMNANTS: Season of Wonder Book Review

24 May
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Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Begren

In the ruins of a once prosperous world, Adriana—one of few select Remnants: extraordinary teens with extraordinary gifts—has finally received the Call, which will take her far from her humble home in the ever-rainy Valley. Alongside her life-long friend and knight, Ronan, Adriana joins with other Remnants and their new, fearless leader Raniero who seems to have special abilities of his own. Pursued by the dark forces of Pacifica, confronted by new challenges and fears daily, the Remnants and their Knights must learn to trust in the Maker as he leads them farther and farther into enemy territory.

Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa Bergren has once again become a romance novel to capture the tomboy’s eyes. After falling in love with the world Gabbi, Leah, Luca, and Marcello in Bergren’s River of Time series, I was eager to meet the newest additions to Mrs. Lisa’s “merry gathering.” While I cannot claim that Remnants: Season of Wonder was as great as the River of Time series, Lisa Bergren was able to convincingly establish a fantasy-dystopian realm with new ideas and lots of thrills. At any given time, Bergren can make you laugh, gasp, or cry out, and it was an adventure in itself just to read.

The Strengths: Remnants had very strong, relatable characters, a convincing romance, and one of the best embodiments of the struggles of leadership that I have experienced. As a leader myself, I identified often with Raniero’s burden as the protector and guide to the group. Bergren captured the “whole” picture of leadership and allowed for the reader to see that just because you are a leader, you aren’t perfect. Even more important, the life of a leader must be one led with total faith in God (or the Maker, as He is called in the book), a willingness to endure hardships for the betterment of the group, and an overwhelming mindset of self-sacrifice. I also appreciated the allegory that was present in the book and hope that the readers will see that develop more and more as the series progresses.

The Weaknesses: My main critiques of Remnants are the sometimes overly simple world building as well as the romance, which slipped into cliché every so often. Many times, I felt like the world could have been made more original if the names and places in it were less plain. In the same way, “the Community” and “the Maker” seemed a little underdeveloped. Although it wasn’t a major problem, I felt like the world could have been constructed with more dips and crannies than presented. Along the same lines, I felt like the love story bordered on cliché several times with the idea of Adriana falling in love with her protector and the idea of forbidden love.

All things considered, I enjoyed the book immensely and feel it deserves every bit of four stars. I can’t wait to read the next book and continue watching the world of Remnants take shape, and I would recommend this book to anyone who has a flair for adventure and romance.

EEB: Sarah’s Video Introduction

21 May

 

EEB welcomes you to our blog and to the King’s Road!

EEB’s Merry Christmas

3 Jan

‘Twas the night before Thursday, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The presents were stacked by the door with care,

In hopes that my mother soon would be there;

My sister and father were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her pajamas, and I in my cap,

Had just stirred from a long winter’s nap,

When out of the digital alarm there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

And then I remembered, with a jump and a smile,

Today was the day we would travel many miles

To see my best friend and co-author,

Brooke Norris in the public library– just to our order.

– EEB’s version of “The Night Before Christmas”

Since we live quite a ways away from each other, Brooke and myself only get to meet up a few times a year. And when we do, it’s a catch all for birthday wishes, Merry Christmas’s, and Happy New Year’s. This year was no exception as we met up at a local library for the day after meticulous planning and much preparation. The big presents this year were decidedly authorial.

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Brooke and I pose with two of the newly printed copies of ‘Napped at Night

Although my gift pales in comparison to Brooke’s, I gave her a hand fan including the art of communication through said fans, hopefully to give her some inspiration for her books from the victorian and renaissance eras.

Not surprisingly, though, Brooke beat me. After winning NaNoWriMo in November, Brooke used her 5 free codes to print ‘Napped at Night through CreateSpace. ‘Napped at Night was the first full-length novel that Brooke and I wrote in 5th and 6th grades respectively.

The rest of the day was spent at the library (aside from a lunch break at the good ol’ Southern restaurant Crackerbarrel and a game of checkers). Doing what authors do best, we took almost two hours to just talk about books and life and the lot. Following that, we browsed the terribly unorganized library shelves, which went every which way in all kinds of orders. I honestly think they organized by title, author, and by way of dewey decimal all at the same time.

After finding some good books for Brooke (I already had my own stack at home), we went to eat, leaving Brooke’s books in quite the secure location, quoting as I placed them on the tallest shelf in the reference section, quoting from John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series as I placed it there, “People rarely look up.” Satisfied that the books were safe, we left for our lunch.

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“People rarely look up.”

When we returned, Brooke and I spent the rest of the day posing in all the likely places in the library, and after so much peering through shelves and wondering what to do next, we finally settled on a game only a couple of authors would devise. Giving ourselves five minutes (which eventually turned into 15), we confined ourselves to the Young Adult section and had to pick five titles (not paying attention to content at all, mind you) that we felt described each other. The results were amusing and filled with references to inside jokes and the books we’ve written.

I gave Brooke: Starclimber, Among the Brave, Girlfriend Material, Flygirl, and Runaway Twin. She, in turn, selected: Where Things Come BackDouble Identity, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, The Misfits, and Briar Rose.

When the last game was played, it was time for us to part. Bittersweet as always, there were farewell hugs and, at the last moment I yelled our customary sign-off, “May the stars shine upon our next meeting” to which she replied, grinning, “And may the hair on your hobbit toes grow ever longer.”

Hopefully we’ll be able to drag Brenna in on the insanity here soonly. Maybe after we can drive. That and get over our fear of cars, too. Because, let’s face it, that’s a very scary business.

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years from Elizabeth E. Brookes!