TWO AUTHORS, ONE BOOK?
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve been asked the question, ‘How do the two of you write one book together? How does the process work?’ Well, we are sisters, who are extremely close and often joke that we are in fact the same person. We are also interested in the same genres and topics so our idea are always really aligned.
We do understand that the concept of two people writing one book is a little bizarre to some of you, so we thought we’d break it down.
When working on any creative project, in this instance writing, we are always trying to find that perfect balance between collaborative and independent contribution. We typically jump back and forth between the two.
Our process always begins with a massive brainstorm session. We like to think of this part like a game of tennis. As there is two of us, ideas seem to develop more quickly because we can bounce them off one another. One of us will throw an idea out there and the other will toss it back with a new spin or curve to it, always building on our existing ideas. Or it will just completely get shut down. The added benefit of us being sisters is that we can be 100% raw and real with each other which is necessary when you don’t like an idea. We definitely don’t sugar-coat our opinions for each other! We would highly recommend trying this process, even if you are embarking on a solo project. Find someone like minded who can brainstorm with you and can help to fuel your ideas. We guarantee your concepts will develop quicker than you imagined!
Once we have formulated our concept, we map everything out in more detail. We are both extremely visual people and need to see our ideas in front of us. We’re talking colour coded notes, mind maps, timelines, character bios, drawings and diagrams of our settings and even mocked up illustrations of our characters. Usually our visions are in line with each other however this part of the process can be quite amusing if we had pictured something totally different to each other in our heads. Sometimes it’s just the smallest details, such as which side of the road someone is walking on or the layout of a character’s room.
We continue mapping out the story scene by scene and construct a really good skeleton together. We ensure we know our themes, subplots and character arcs before putting pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys).
Now it’s time to tackle things individually. We delegate out the scenes and get writing – this part can take quite a while! When writing on our own we both work so differently.
Shannan gets all her ideas down and roughly constructs a scene. She then goes over it again and again until its perfect.
Tayla on the other hand takes forever on her first draft. She struggles to move past a line unless it is as perfect as it can be (Not the best method but it works for her).
Once we feel our sections are the best they can be, we swap. Then we thoroughly edit and rewrite each other’s sections, always building on what the other sis has done. We swap back and forth multiple times. Even though we have a very similar voice and style of writing (we are the same person after all), this continuous swapping ensures that the work can seamlessly weave together while having elements of both of us in there.
We come back together to do a big edit/cut/reworking of ideas which usually results in pages and pages of feedback that need to be integrated. We then split up again and begin the individual process all over.
That’s basically how we do it! Hopefully that has answered some of the questions surrounding co-authoring. Collaborating together has been an amazing experience. There is so much fun involved in our creative process and having someone to share your ideas with, who is as equally invested in the work as you are is just a dream come true.