How We Write Together
Given that we are a husband-and-wife writing team, we’re always asked how we do it—without maiming each other. In the movies, they often show writing partners working side-by-side on a manuscript or screenplay with lots of frenzied pacing, empty pizza boxes, and the montage of the partners brainstorming and coming up with aha moments. We’ve eaten our share of late night pizza, but for us, we only collaborate like that when outlining the plot. We are plotters out of necessity. Imagine two people agreeing to meet for lunch, but never bothering to communicate about where and when. The chance that they’ll actually end up at the same restaurant are nil. We need to be in agreement about what is going to happen in the story, when it happens, and how the story ends.
The first draft should be about allowing the imagination to flow without someone else (or yourself) critiquing the work along the way. So we divide and conquer, and assign different chapters to each other. This allows each of us to have the freedom to find the wonderful surprises that emerge when writing creatively. But to do this successfully, we need to have the story plotted chapter by chapter. This is actually a great remedy to overcome writer’s block because we know what to work on for that day.
Editing has a totally different process. After we’ve each gone through a few edits on our own chapters, we let the other person have at it. Admittedly, it took a little while to learn how to let go of our egos and not get angry when the other person hacks away at what we thought was inspired writing. But we’ve learned to rely on each other’s strengths. For example, Jim is better at detailed descriptions and line editing, and Stephanie is better at dialogue and cutting unnecessary scenes. Then, we print the whole thing and edit, edit, edit until neither of us remembers who wrote what.
Writing can be a lonely experience, and we encourage all writers to try working with a partner on a project.
Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Genre: Science Fiction