What It’s Like to Write With a Partner

Writing penAbout a year ago, I’d been writing in a YouTube series called “Legendary Author Battles” and Dave Higgins and I decided to try writing together. I’ve gone into how that all happened in a previous post, needless to say, we started from a place of mutual admiration.

We worked on Greenstar Season One in 2014, publishing it in October. It’s been positively received, and we’re currently working on the sequel. I thought I’d write a quick post running down our process so far.

When we started writing season one, there was some flailing around, as we tried to work out the best way to write together. This led to some duplicate work, as we each doubled-up on what the other person had done.

From season one, we learned that two heads are better than one when it comes to outlining, but some pieces of the outline are straightforward enough to not require collaboration. A realisation we’ve taken through to season two. So when we started season two, I’ve been taking an initial idea we had for each episode and writing an outline with a lot of plotholes in it.

After I finish that outline, we have a meeting where we brainstorm ideas on how to fill those holes. Then I take the meeting notes and write a first draft. From the first draft, Dave produces a polished draft and I edit out any bugs I can find.

  1. Initial outline
  2. Meeting for finished outline
  3. First draft
  4. Polished draft
  5. Editing
  6. Publishing

That’s the process we came up with after the flailing of the first season. That initial searching for a good routine was costly time-wise. It took over two hundred hours from my side to get season one in the bag, but it was worth it. The time investment for season two is shaping up to be half as much.

The advantages of a writing partnership are that the ideas tend not to be the first thing either of us come up with. That’s from the outline all the way to the finished draft. However, while that’s a pretty hefty advantage, I find the greatest benefit to be between the drafts.

What I mean is that when Dave hands me back the polished draft, it’s no longer my book. So I can be critical in ways I can’t with my own work. And being critical is more valuable that gold when it comes to writing.

I’ve read a lot of indie books in the last couple of years and I’ve almost always seen ways they can be improved. Ways that the authors can’t see themselves because they’re too close to the work.

Being a writing partner means that I can fix problems I wouldn’t otherwise see.

Dave and I have season three planned for later this year, along with a few other ideas we’ve been talking about. While I like writing solo, I can definitely see this partnership lasting a long time. The benefits that I was wondering about have all panned out.

Of course, you need to be very careful before choosing a writing partner. Which is where I got lucky. Dave is so talented that it makes me feel guilty sometimes that he’s propping me up. But hopefully I have something to contribute too.


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3 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Write With a Partner

  1. My name is Dave Higgins, author of authors.
    Look on my prose, ye writers, and despair.

    While obviously my talent cannot be underestimated, I similarly feel very lucky to be working with Simon. Which might be part of the reason our partnership works: we both want to put our best efforts in so the other isn’t carrying us, and treat the other’s thoughts as worth considering properly.

  2. Pingback: In Collaboration, The Nature of Art | Davetopia

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