It comes up at every signing, writing conference, and even at the softball field. With expressions varying from horror to awe it’s always some form of the same question: You co-wrote DOON? How on earth does that work?
Well, lucky readers, you’re about to find out!
As newbie authors, Carey and I started out as friends and critique partners. We’d just finished editing our respective solo projects and were discussing what we each wanted to write next.
I’d been kicking around the idea of doing a retelling of Brigadoon and it seemed appropriate that I should write it through the lens of my teenage self, since I’d seen the musical for the first time as a starry eyed, hormone crazed sixteen-year-old. Coincidentally, Carey had just completed her second young adult novel, so I was picking her brain on voice and technique when somewhere along the way our conversation took a detour. Our ideas for the mythical kingdom of Doon sparked an explosion of evil witches, magic spells, daring adventures, two unique best friends, and heroic princes in kilts … soon it became clear that this story was bigger than the both of us, but that together we could make it amazing!
So we jumped in with both feet and DOON was born.
Our process is pretty straight forward. We each write a main character and their respective heroes. Carey writes Mackenna Reid: the fun, drama-geek with an irreverent sense of humor, and Duncan MacCrae: the charming, boy-next-door prince.
I write Veronica Welling: the perfect-on-the-outside cheerleader who hides a life of adversity behind her wide smile, and Jamie MacCrae: the intense crown prince who’s tortured about choosing what he wants versus what’s best for his kingdom.
Our plotting process is a little less meticulous. We’d both love to be “pantsers” who let our characters dictate the plot as we go along, but we’ve learned over the extensive revision process of the first Doon novel that this is not practical. So we start with a basic outline that morphs into a more detailed synopsis and we try to stick to that plan…with a few interesting detours along the way.
For the first draft, Carey writes chapters from Kenna’s point of view and I write Vee’s chapters. We each tweak our characters’ dialogue (girls and princes) in the other writer’s chapters.
Once we’ve written the first draft, we both edit and revise the entire manuscript. Each of us touch and polish every sentence, giving the overall story a more cohesive feel. Our goal is that the two main characters have distinctive voices in a way that’s not disjointed.
Sometimes in revision, we have to restructure. This can mean scenes or entire chapters switch character points of view. For example, the tavern chapter in Alloway and the dungeon scenes in DOON have been written from both Kenna and Vee’s POVs.
In the revision process for the first DOON book, we actually switched from alternating chapters to a more Vee-centric story that was a 65/35 split (approx.). This meant that several of the chapters told from Kenna’s perspective had to be rewritten for Vee. While this might seem like a loss for Kenna, it actually made for a more focused, dynamic story that will allow us to segue into a more Kenna-centric sequel. (Look for several of Kenna’s “lost” chapters to surface as bonus material as we gear up for the release of book 2.)
Carey and I, much like our characters, are opposite in a way that makes for a perfect balance. As writers, we each bring different technical strengths to the table. As people, we push each other to see life through a broader more vivid scope. And as friends, we help one another through the ups and downs of the publishing industry and life in general.
The process of writing with a co-author is fun and dynamic. Splitting responsibilities such as blogging, promotions, and social networking is a great blessing. But the biggest advantage is that you have someone who is equally invested. Someone you can call at midnight with a brilliant plot idea, who won’t curse you out and block your phone number. In a solitary industry, having someone beside you through the victories and defeats is beyond measure.
Incidentally, after Lorie wrote this post she sent it to me, Carey, to enhance and tweak. I sent it back to Lorie for a final pass before forwarding it to BLINK. It’s just what we do. 😉