Monday, July 6, 2009

Guest Bloggers Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver on Writing As A Team

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!

17 comments:

Janet Lee Barton said...

Great info on how write as a team, Aaron and Diane--thanks so much for sharing how you go about it! Can't wait to see you both in Denver!

Beverly A. Porter said...

Aaron and Diane make a great team. They are as different as night and day in many respects, but both have a heart for the Lord and a passion for writing. I can't wait to read Under the Tulip Poplar!

Erica Vetsch said...

What a fun article. I don't know how you would write as a team if you were SOTP writers either.

Having been through edits from both Rachel O. and Aaron, I fully support the 'publication is a team effort' mentality.

Sounds like you have a great system going, Diane and Aaron. I hope it produces many, many works for readers to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Writing as a team can open so many doors. One imagination is a wonderful gift, but to have the ability to have two is a blessing. Thank you for sharing on how you do it.

I look forward to reading all the writing to come!

Rhonda said...

Thanks Aaron and Diane for sharing this information. Sounds like you have a lot of fun working together. I'm looking forward to reading your up coming books and seeing you both in Denver!

Elaine said...

Thank you for writing this. I found it very interesting. I've always wondered how it would work to be a coauthor. Now I have a better idea.

Gene said...

Diane and Aaron are very talented writers. They have learned an important lesson, that working together on a project doubles the skills of the writers and allows them to see things from different points of view. Their stories are very good and always have a message. God Bless and keep you both!

Debby Mayne said...

What a fun team! I can't wait to read your next book!

Mary Connealy said...

Co=authoring a book fascinates me. I can't quite figure out how it would work, and yet, or course, people do it all the time.

thanks for the article. Giving us a little peak behind the curtain. :)

Lisa "Paige" Davis said...

I've only had the opportunity to meet Aaron once but had heard a lot about him from Diane. Diane is my friend and co worker and I have witness her going through the trials of writing and perfecting her writing skills. She is the perfect person to teamwork with because we often write letters together and often proof each others work. I am even more excited to read her second book. This is one of her dreams and I'm so happy that she allowed me in her life to witness her happiness.

Myrtis Small said...

It is nice to know that two writers with different views can compromise and work together so well. Spreading the word of God through a different avenue can be a blessing to someone else. God truly has a calling on one's life that knows how to spread the gospel. It appears that the both of you work well together as a team. So continue to do what the both of you do best----writing.

Gloria said...

This is a great article, and I was very interested in learning how Diane and Aaron write as a team. Diane has been my friend for many years and we have worked together for a long time. I have seen her hard work, dedication and true devotion to her writing, and I am thrilled that it has brought her to the fulfillment of her dream. Diane has shared much of her work with her co-workers through the years and it has been a joy to be one of the first to read some of her drafts. When two talented authors like Diane and Aaron share ideas and points of view, the result has to be wonderful! I look forward to many more great books by them and know that Diane will get to "retire, live on the beach and write!"

Edna said...

great minds work together, enter me into the drawing this month


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Faith Imagined said...

Sounds like you have a good thing going!

Aaron McCarver said...

Thank you all so much for all of the kind comments! I should have also mentioned that Christians work as a team to be the body of Christ, so it takes all of you, too. Blessings to you.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hi Aaron and Diane! Love seeing you two on here! Aaron has edited a few of my books. He's the bomb, baby!!! :) :) :)

Lori B said...

Aaron and Diane spoke on the "Team" topic at our local library a few months ago and captivated everyone! It's fun to meet with them and listen to the tales and trials of getting their books completed. They really work so well together. Not everyone could collaborate the way they do. Oh, and they are much cuter than their pictures show. :)