Friday, July 10, 2015

The Co-Authoring Writing Process Part 2 : Writing The Ending Series

We've received many questions about what it's like to write with someone and how Team Lindsey writes The Ending Series. So, here's a little insight as to how the whole co-authoring process works with us. 

The general process....
 Zoe sticky board - The result of one of our brainstorming sessions

First, we do a lot of brainstorming together.
  • We pick a title. We wordsmith, contemplate meanings, cadence, and so on until to come up with the name of the book. It's after much walking, thought, and verbal vomit when we can finally jump up and say, "YES!"
  • Discuss plot and storyline. We also brainstorm twists and character arcs, new characters, and then list the questions we have to answer or things that need  to be set in place for future storylines. Often, we are working backwards when it comes to planning. We know where we want to go, we just have to figure out how to get there. That's were two minds help open up new ideas and possibilities for the story. Some of our awesome reveals throughout the book were planned while others were stumbled upon. A special note about writing: you can have your entire book ironed out--every single detail and location and specific points to cover throughout each and every chapter--but creativity generally leads you astray, and your brilliant outline and planning falls by the wayside. 
  • Determine Publication Timeline. We pick a publication date and work backwards. There's more to writing a book than just writing words down. Time needs to be allotted for writing the manuscript, but also for multiple, month-long editing rounds. 
    • We generally give ourselves at least four months to write the manuscript, but that tends to vary.
    • Then, we read through EVERYTHING we've written and edit/revise/offer suggestions/look for missing info and plot holes, etc.
    • When we're satisfied with our work, we send the manuscript to beta readers for a month or so. They then pick the story apart and tell us what works, what's wonky, and what they would've liked to have seen that we didn't include. *We don't include every single person's request or accept and change all critiques, but we do keep them in mind and change major issues that readers find.* Betas are SO important; they are our gauge to know if we're ready to publish or not. If they don't like the book, we rewrite and won't published until the story is where it needs to be. Then we edit again.
    • After the second editing round, we send the story to our editor for a month. When we get it back, we edit and read through the manuscript together, ensuring it's exactly the way we want it. Only then do we consider it "final".
    • We format the manuscript for different online retailers and devices (Nook, Kindle, iBook, etc.), and we also format for paperback (very different and more time consuming as far as the cover and internal content and setup goes).
    • Finally, we get a cover made and write the back blurb/description, set up marketing campaigns, send advanced copies out to advanced readers/reviewers, and hit publish.
    • Then we have a fun-ass release party! We've done a book signing before, but that's more difficult now that we're not living closely together.
Into The Fire Production Timeline

Writing The Chapters!

Now, the part you've been patiently waiting for.
Initially, we create an in-depth outline of each chapter:
  • whose chapter it is?
  • what's the location (off-site or home base)?
  • list the significant points being addressed
  • are there any questions we have for each other or things to keep in mind while reading through the chapter?
Into The Fire Chapter Outline

Progressing the story. 

The general rule of thumb...

1. We take turns writing.

If Dani and Zoe are at completely different part of the country, like they were in After The Ending, we write our chapters at our own pace. In these circumstances, we don't need to build our chapters off of one another. In Into The Fire, Zoe had her own mess of crap going on in the ghost town with Jason and Jake and Tavis and Sam, as did Dani who was stuck in the Colony. We needed to make sure we were in communication with one another and somewhat following the chapter outline closely given the way our chapters integrated at times, but otherwise we were on our own. I could write 3 chapters in a day if I wanted to.
If we're using Out Of The Ashes as an example, the book starts with a Jake chapter (which I wrote since he's my character), and then moved to a Zoe chapter before getting to a Dani. That means that LF had to wait for me to write my chapters before she could start reflecting on how Zoe and Jake and the rest of the group was doing based on all that happens in the first part of the book. When there's a lot of conflict, it's very difficult to write without being up to speed on what is going on with everyone.

How do we keep track?

Aside from updating our chapter outline document with our word count, we post our chapters in a shared drive. For instance, when I finish a Zoe chapter, I post it in the shared drive so that LF can read it when she's ready to write her first chapter. This is why Before The Dawn has gone slower than usual. Because our characters (all of them) are so entwined we can't go off, writing on our own and having a merry time writing whatever we want. We have to build off of each other's chapters. If LF can't get a chapter written until the end of the week, then I have to wait that long to read it and write my own.

Which characters do we write?

  • Lindsey Fairleigh writes Dani, and I write Zoe. 
  • Throughout the series we've each had a "camp" of characters that we've written and it goes a little something like this (without listing every single character). You can probably see the trend...
    • LF - Dani, Jason, Chris, Vanessa, Carlos, Cece, Ky, Ben, Grayson, Gabe, Mase and Camille, etc.
    • LP - Zoe, Jake, Becca, Tavis, Sam, Harper, Sanchez, Dave, Sarah, Biggs, Clara, Jones and Taylor, etc.
    • Crossover - We both write Dr. Wesley and General Herodson. For example, we're introduced to Dr. Wesley in Dani's chapters throughout Into The Fire, so LF wrote a lot of that. But I wrote Before The Ending: Anna's Story, and I write her in all of Zoe's chapters.
  • More Crossover. When my characters, like Becca or Harper, cross over from Zoe chapters into Dani chapters, LF writes them. When I'm reading through her chapters and feel like their interactions or dialogue aren't true to their character, I just tweak it a little bit to make it work. We've also done this with Dani and Zoe throughout all the stories as well.
    • Side note: we've been writing these characters for so long, it's finally come to the point where there isn't much we don't know or can't mentally see all the characters doing. We're so familiar with them. Like, I know Jason rarely has an expression on his face and LF knows that Harper likes to wink quite frequently :)
And as for my Ending Series writing process...

  • I brush up on the past Ending books, since I generally take a handful of months off in between so I can decompress or work on a different project
  • I create a notebook where I plot and brainstorm on my own for my characters
  • I create a playlist specific to The Ending Series and the specific book I'm working on
  • I find photos of my characters or locations I plan to use and do research for reference
  • And then I begin to write!!!!!
Twitter: @LindseyRPogue

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