When you write with a partner you have a common goal of telling a story and getting it down so it can be edited. Our process is a bit odd to some because after the brainstorming, research, outlining, and first draft are completed we take turns adding scenes, embellishing the dialog, and massaging or decorating the scenes. We turn the manuscript over to the other and go through the same process. This back and forth helps us to see the way the other partner is thinking. During that time, the one not editing can do more in depth research to find some interesting things that will help bring the story to life.
One of the most important aspects of writing as a team is reading the completed chapters aloud to one another. This allows us to listen to the flow of the story and (since there are two of us) the consistency of voice. During the readings we sometimes get “AHA!” moments and find the story making a dramatic shift or turn as a result. At this stage we sometimes eliminate a character who is getting in the way or bring one back whom we hadn’t heard from since chapter three. We’ll have to admit there have also been times when a character’s name needed to be changed, because we found their name was too hard to pronounce during the reading. We also tried to keep vocabulary simple enough that the reader doesn’t have to get out the dictionary to figure out what our characters are saying.
As writing partners, we also learn that inspiration and great ideas can occur at any moment. Recently, we were on a cruise and through a conversation with some of the other passengers, Janet came up with a terrific scene that she couldn’t wait to type in. We didn’t have access to a printer but when she read it to me, I knew it was perfect for the story.
We may not always agree on changes, but sharing the tasks of editing gives each partner a chance to take a break from the red pen.