There's two things writers hate, the first being the cat walking across their keyboard right in the middle of a particularly brilliant piece of prose. The second is sharing their work before its ready to be exposed to the world outside their head. It's just too personal, too intimate.

Imagine then a husband and wife writing team. How on earth do they write together? Sharing incomplete work, exposing their half-formed thoughts to each other... (Naked thoughts are so much scarier to share than naked bodies are – even when one's middle-aged body is getting a bit saggy in a whole lot of places - Cathy)

This is a question we often get asked, “How do you write as a team? And a husband and wife team at that?”. Well, our flippant answer is that I do everything she says. (Flippant? FLIPPANT? It's the TRUTH – Cathy) Actually, the real truth is, like any team, we draw on each other's strengths and trust each other to be kind with our weaknesses.

Cathy is definitely more experienced in the plotting of stories. She's the plot master. But she's not so good at building worlds and environments. I'm really bad at dialogue but good with ideas. We don't separate the book into "his chapters" and "her chapters". It’s much more collaborative than that. (He rewrites all my descriptions coz he doesn't like them, but then I rewrite all his dialogue, so we're even. It's just pure dumb luck that our natural voices are very similar and working together so closely has made them even more so - Cathy) Indeed, we are writing this entry together in bed, passing a laptop between us, and that's all the detail you'll be getting on that. (J)

Take for example our latest release THE PRICE OF DESIRE. We talked over ideas for the main plot in our spare moments: in the car, after the kids have gone to bed, over breakfast. I'd have an idea, and Cathy would ask “But why would they do that?” and I'd say “Um”. And we'd talk about the characters, what they are like, what their motivations are. (It beats talking to yourself. You're less likely to be carted away for treatment - Cathy) Then, Cathy put the plot together while I made cups of tea.

So the story developed, each of us adding our ideas until finally we had a story we were happy to release to the world around us. I still find sharing my half-formed thoughts terrifying, even though I know they will be the better for it.

Please, tell me I am not alone! Do you find it hard to share your work with others?

Mr Swann (with interjections and quality control from Ms Leda)

3 Comments:

Blogger Gillian Layne said:

What a delightful thought! I shared your process with my husband, who's a scientist, and he declared himself available for any and all plotting sessions--evil man ;)

Seriously, I think brand new words/storylines too fragile for another person's eyes (and inevitable comments) so I very much admire the way you both have made it work.

8:25 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hmmm - I'd take him up on his offer and then talk about character motivation and emotional development until his eyes glaze over ;-)

Or maybe I'm just in an evil mood today...

Cathy

1:20 AM  

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