Co-Authoring, David Berens, and a new look at the Founding Fathers

You just never know what’s going to happen when it’s time to record a new episode of Good Sentences. Here’s the problem. Craig Hart is insane. But that’s not the bad news. No, the bad news is that of the two of us… he’s the sanest man in the room.

Take for example our trashing of the founding fathers. Even these great Americans of the pre-streaming age are not immune to our twisted minds, but I’ll let you listen to the opening section of Episode Ten. (Holy crap! There’s ten episodes). And I’m not saying you won’t chuckle a little. You probably will, even as you’re putting your hands of your child’s ears. Perhaps not as loudly as Craig and me, but as I said, we put the “special” in “those are two special kinda dementoids, right there.”

One is the lonliest number

Writing is, primarily, a solo endeavor. But not always and not for everyone. There have been many excellent books written by two or more authors working together. (I almost wrote “working in congress,” which while grammatically correct are words so removed from reality as to render everything else equally moot – but much like during this episode, I may be veering off the highway a bit.

POINT IS – Co-Authoring, it’s a thing!

Ask sixty authors their thoughts and you’ll get just as many opinions, but the sixty or so folks we asked were kind enough to respond to a survey to give us an idea of what some of those opinions actually are. Here’s the breakdown of their responses.

Have done it, would do it again

Have never done it, but I might

Have done it, would never do it again

53%

41%

6%

This is an area in which Craig and I have a decent amount of experience, as we have written several books together, starting with the SpyCo novellas, and most recently we worked together on the newest installment of his Shelby Alexander series. And we talk, in the episode, about how lucky we were to have found a writing partner who is so compatible artistically. There’s a good deal more to what makes it work on the show, but basically it has a lot to do with ego, or more accurately the ability to keep that in check.

Some of the folks who responded to the poll, (all of whom are authors worthy of a look – you’ll find links at the end of the post), also explained their views. And while the poll itself had mostly positive responses, the comments point out many of the potential challenges.

It really matters who you choose for a coauthor. Not all people work well together. I’ve had both good and bad experiences and I’ve learned to weigh what I know against what I’m hoping. Just because something SOUNDS like a good idea doesn’t mean it actually is. Authors have different processes. It’s best to work with someone who has a similar process as yours.

Heidi Hutchinson

We connected with that right away, because Craig and realized early in the partnership that we had a nearly identical process, making things go amazingly smoothly.

I’ve co-authored with 2 different authors and both were great experiences! We discussed some ideas and then just went with the flow, one of us writing a few chapters and then sending it to the other author to right the next few. To smooth it out, each person went back and edited chapters from the other author which helped make it flow easily and blend our writing styles better. I’d do it again. The only complaint I have is dealing with payments each month because I hate going over the royalties and converting it all before sending to my co-authors. 😂 I’m lazy like that and it takes a lot of eye power. It’s really about finding the right person or people you feel comfortable with and trust. As long as you both are into it and putting as much into it as the other, it really can be a great, fun experience.

Victoria Ashley

Another great answer! And another key point: the willingness of both writers to let the other elevate their work. Craig has made changes to my stuff and the instant I reviewed what he’d done I realized he’d improved it. I’ve looked at a section that he’s killed it on, then noticed a spot where a sentence might ramp up the tension, or a spot where we might be able to grab a chuckle. Trust is a huge component.

Hey, here’s a bit more about why I love co-writing. I love having someone who knows my characters as well as I do so when I feel stuck, we can talk it out. I love that my co-authors’ weaknesses are my strengths and their strengths help cover my weaknesses. I love that in dual POV, the characters’ voices are completely unique because two different authors have written them. I love how having someone else who wants to read the next chapter motivates me to work on it.

Jolene Buchheit

My friend Jolene was excited enough about the topic to message me to further expand on a comment she’d left with the survey. She’s worked with other writers in three different configurations and has learned something different from each partnership.

For most of the folks that left a comment the challenge for them was often the person they were working with. Leave it to my buddy Katy Webb to cop to being the problem child herself.

I have a couple people I would co-write with, but I don’t work well with others. I’m always that person who jumps in and does all the things to make sure they get done. Call it “control freak” if you’d like. It would have to be someone I know would participate in the brainstorming process as well as offering their voice to the story.

Katy Webb

David Berens

Our discussion segued into a specific author who is one of our favorites, and we are also fortunate to call him friend. David Berens has written a slew of books, both solo and with other writers, although the method he related to Craig in an interview that originally appeared on The Games and Writers Show, is another form of collaboration altogether. And the final section of Episode 10 is that very interview, which will give you a great deal of insight into this very talent author. You’ll learn about the genre tag that’s applied to Dave’s work, (“Florida Fiction,”) as well as his general writing technique. It’s not something you’re going to want to miss.

Check out our friends

The folks who chimed in on co-authoring would love for you to take a look at their work. I, being the great spoon-feeder, shall make this amazingly easy:

Our Lame Excuse

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the amount of time that has passed between episodes nine and ten. It was approximately three hundred years. Alright, maybe it just felt that way, but we have an excuse.

As I mentioned earlier, Craig and I have been working on the new Shelby Alexander thriller, Serenity Reborn. The process of getting that all squared away to make sure we were good to go as the release date draws closer was a very intense (and completely fun) sprint, and we felt like a new episode of a podcast about writing might be understandably postponed because we were writing. If you haven’t preordered your copy of Serenity Reborn, you can click the banner below and do it now, but before you go I’d like to leave you with my favorite quote from Episode 10.

Those who can, do. Those who cannot do, teach. Those that really suck have a podcast.

S.J. Varengo

Published by Scott Varengo

Blogger, space marine, neurosurgeon and dog polisher.

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