Diane and I were excited when JoAnne asked us to guest blog about writing as a team, as people often ask us how we work together. So we met and divided up the work, just like we always do.
Our writing first comes from our desire to tell stories that will glorify our Lord. We pray our stories touch Christians and non-Christians alike. We always discuss what message we feel should be in our books at the very beginning of the process. Without this message, there is no story for us as we do not want to write anything that is not for Him.
Aaron says: Some important factors should be considered when deciding on a writing partner. First is the relationship. Diane and I have been friends for more than a decade. We met when she attended a writing class I was teaching. I immediately knew she had talent and encouraged her to pursue her dream. We and our writing group, the Bards of Faith, have been through a lot together, and we are like family.
Diane and I respect each other as writers. Although we actually agree most of the time about our stories, there are times we do not. When those times come, we respect the other’s opinion and compromise. We have never had any major disagreements. We find that we are usually able to go with which of us cares the most about that particular scene or issue we are not in complete agreement on.
The next thing to consider is writing styles. Diane and I prefer to write from an outline. We both have to know where the story is going before we can really do any writing. Having worked with Diane and the phenomenal Gilbert Morris, who taught me outlining, I don’t think I could work with a seat-of-the-pants writer. No offense. The approach is just too different. (If there is a team that works with different approaches, please let us know.)
While we are similar writers, our differences complete us as a team. We like that we have both the male and the female perspectives covered. We find this very helpful, especially writing from the male and the female points of view.
Diane says: We utilize our different strengths and make them work for us by splitting the tasks according to our talents. He is the idea man. Although I have come up with a few plots over the years, they flow from Aaron like hot lava.
During the early stages we meet together to talk about the characters, settings, and plots. Once we both have a hazy idea of where we want to end up and how we are going to arrive, Aaron writes the chapter-by-chapter synopsis. As he is doing this, I am already starting to write the first few chapters, which I send to him to make sure our visions for the book match. We make any necessary adjustments, and I start writing in earnest. Aaron provides a great deal of the research information and helps me with trouble spots as I follow our outline to the end of the story.
I hand over the rough draft to Aaron, and he edits the whole book, suggesting new scenes and changes he thinks are necessary. I rewrite. . .and rewrite. . .and rewrite. . .until we are both satisfied with the novel and deem it ready for submission.
Aaron submits the book to JoAnne and we wait for the review. (Thanks to JoAnne and Rachel Overton for their help with this stage of our writing!) We work together on the review, banging our heads on the desk and trying to maintain our objectivity so we can accept the suggestions that will strengthen the book. Once the edits are complete, Aaron emails the new copy to JoAnne who makes sure it is ready for the copyeditor. (Another thanks to Becky Fish for her help with this stage!) Aaron handles the final stages of writing the cover copy information and whatever else JoAnne needs at this point.
We look at the galleys separately when they come in and communicate with each other about any problems we see. After that, we spend a lot of time grinning. Then we work on the next idea and start the process all over again.
We think writing as a team is a great approach. After all, when all is taken into account, all books are produced from a team—writers, editors, artists, and many others. (Hopefully the authors I—Aaron—have edited feel this way, too!) You also get a built-in support system who understands that you are weird! Writing can be such a solitary profession. It is great to have someone to work with who finds it okay that you have other people in your head!
We hope you enjoy our historical stories set in Tennessee. Under the Tulip Poplar releases through Heartsong Presents this month, and A Bouquet for Iris and The Mockingbird’s Call will be coming over the next several months. We urge you to try writing as a team, and hopefully you will find it easier to score!