The Secret to Collaboration

A couple of weeks ago, the Evil Mastermind wrote a post about collaboration. He said some very nice things about the process and working together. Boy, do I have him fooled, or what?

Yes, it’s true, I did ask him to join the crew of Bad Book. And that has been a great success, if you measure success by tens of dollars.

Bad Book was a spur of the moment concept I hatched during a chat session with Mader and Antrobus in November 2011. As Hise mentioned, we took turns writing scenes and chapters, sometimes leaving a perfect jumping-off point for the next author – or sometimes leaving a challenge. Mader, Hise, and I sped along on it and the end result was published in April 2012. Pretty quick turnaround.

I got the idea for Triple Dog Dare a few years ago. At the time, I had only a few of the key elements pegged; and, I knew I wanted it to be something akin to Mr. Pish meets It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I also knew I didn’t have the chops to write that kind of madcap comedy – and my process of percolating plots can take years. So I put it on the back burner.

After the release of Bad Book, I was pretty jazzed up at the comedic talent exhibited by both Hise and Mader. So, one day in April while I was discussing Indies Unlimited blog business with Hise (yes, we actually do work – this isn’t all fun and games, people!), I mentioned the idea I had about a crazy book about a dog and some whacko characters. The next thing I knew, we were brainstorming plot ideas.

See, this is where it gets good. We’ve established numerous times that I’m incredibly lazy. To me, staring at the blank page and creating is difficult. So, I got Hise to do that part. Since the idea of the book was mine, Hise did the courteous thing and suggested that I go ahead and write the first chapter. Well, I showed him, all right. I wrote a really bad few pages – completely on purpose, mind you – so that he would be like “Well, Brooks, um, how about I give it a shot?” And BAM! That worked like magic. Okay, so maybe I didn’t write that first chapter badly on purpose. Or maybe I did. You’ll never know, now, will you?

Hise’s twist on the first chapter blew me away. So, we decided that he would lay down the gist of the chapter, and I’d come in behind him and put some meat on the bones. It was unfair, really, since he did all the hard work. Oops, I mean, since I did all the hard work. Polishing is like editing. It’s really…draining! (Okay, so I’ll admit; I find that so much easier, and more fun, too.) Another good thing is that Hise is great at twist endings. I can’t say whether or not I’m good at them – my issue is that I like to spend a LOT of time with my characters, understanding where they come from and where they’re going, their motivation, etc., yadda yadda, before I can mess with them. Hise doesn’t need to do that. He writes quickly, creatively, and with a confidence that, quite frankly, annoys me. I’d like to be able to write like that.

Differing styles is one place where collaborators could run into trouble. Hise and I do write very differently – but in our case, we’re able to use that to our advantage to create full-bodied text. I’ve never, in my life, written a project from multiple points of view, yet Hise can do so effortlessly. Again, mildly annoying. He works hard, I hardly work. See? That’s very complementary.

Would I collaborate on all my projects going forward? Probably not. Some things are just too personal, and some characters have been with me for too long. But when it comes to comedy or genres I wouldn’t normally venture into, I think having someone do the work for me – er, I mean, having someone to make that journey with is reassuring and, if you do it right, a lot of fun.

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

20 thoughts on “The Secret to Collaboration”

  1. Funny, Kat, very funny, but I’d like to bet that you and Stephen work together well because you do what you do best and he does what he does best and it just so happens that it works out collaboratively.

  2. I just finished TDD last night and must say that it was a great (hilarious) read! Some parts of it made me laugh until I cried and other parts made me say “ewww!” Both you and Stephen did a great job on it. 🙂

  3. You’re lazy? You hardly work? OMG woman, you run circles around me. 🙂
    As for collaborating – I don’t play well in the sandbox. I’m too bossy and actually expect maturity from my mates. I think I’ll keep to my own sandbox.

  4. Having read this GREAT book, it’s fun to see behind the curtain and know how it all came about. You guys did a great job, and you obviously complement each other perfectly. I’m like you, Kat, I usually write pretty linearly, but the one time I did a story from different points of view, it actually turned out quite well. Who knew?

    1. Aw, you are TOO kind!

      But seriously, it depends on how you define linearity. I can’t see myself writing a multiple POV work on my own. One of the reasons why is that I normally write out of order, as the scenes come to me. Then I have to go back and link them all together like a puzzle. It can be a hassle. Add multiple POVs to the mix? A nightmare. I have never written a piece of fiction in sequence. I am forcing myself to do that on my current project, and it’s yet another thing that comes naturally to the Evil Mastermind that I find annoying *cough* jealous *cough*.

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