Posted by Lise in writing on Feb 10, 2015
My guests today are married writers who work on books separately and together. Have you ever tried to collaborate with another writer on a long story or novel? It sounds appealing, sort of, that is the part about not doing as much work yourself. 🙂 But what about working side by side with your own spouse?
Win and Meredith Blevins are old friends of mine from Wyoming. I met Win at one of my first writing conferences, a Western Writers of America confab in Jackson Hole. This year Win (finally!) won the Owen Wister lifetime achievement award by WWA. He has won many awards and was on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma writing program. Meredith is a mystery novelist, travel writer, writing coach, and more. Together they’ve written over thirty books. They continue to write their individual projects but have found a way to collaborate in their new series. ‘Moonlight Water’ is their new novel.
“The ghosts of Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac haunt ‘Moonlight Water’ in the honorable tradition of road stories. To this, the Blevins’s have introduced the themes of spiritual awakening, personal redemption, love renewed – in a thumping good detective story in Navajoland.” – Loren D. Estleman
How exactly do you collaborate with another writer? Here’s the Blevins Way.
• • •
Can you Write Together? Should you?
By Meredith and Win Blevins
Every moment of collaboration is not sublime, but is the entire experience amazing? Yes.
So far we’ve done three books together, MOONLIGHT WATER just out, THE DARKNESS ROLLING coming in June, and GOING HOME, just gone to our editor. The fourth book is half-finished.
How does it work? Leave your ego at the door, and don’t write in the same room.
WIN: There’s no back and forth. We tried that once, and it was a disaster. I killed a character in an early chapter—
MEREDITH: And I was planning to use that character as the murderer. We got really aggravated with each other and didn’t give it another shot for years. Now we’ve got it down.
S0 far, Win does the first draft, I do the second, and he reads it a final time looking for little stuff, like commas, to set right. Then off it goes.
WIN: We know each other’s strengths and go with that. First, we come up with an idea together, brainstorming. Then I write the draft. I may ask her for inspiration at moments along the way, but I do the actual writing.
MEREDITH: And we talk about the characters.
WIN: I’m good at the structure of a story, the overall architecture. What’s the basic conflict? How can it be heightened? What surprising events can get in the way? How can the ending be the necessary one, yet somehow be surprising?
MEREDITH: Then I do the second draft. We don’t talk about it at all.
WIN: She’s the best dialogue writer in the business, also great with setting—
MEREDITH: and I try to make the language sing.
WIN: I could not have written the first couple of pages of MOONLIGHT WATER with half as much juice.
MEREDITH: And I try to deepen the relationship between the characters.
WIN: Without her, I would do a second draft trying what she does, but it wouldn’t work as well. And most of the time, we really can’t tell who has done what. I don’t remember which nifty sentences are mine and which are hers. We’re in sync, and we respect each other.
MEREDITH: THE ROLLING DARKNESS started a series of thrillers. On the second one, we’re reversing roles—I’m doing the first draft.
WIN: And I’m writing a different book before doing the second draft on hers. We’ll see how this role reversal works. We make each other better writers. The reviews for our first book together, MOONLIGHT WATER, are over the moon and so are we!
Learn more about their writing and editing services at www.meredithandwinblevins.com