When we got serious about this novel writing thing, I started wondering how three people were going to actually write something together. Would we all sit in a room, and pass a pad of paper around, each writing one sentence after the other? (I seriously imagined this for a while!) Or could we have a round-robin email, one person forwarding it to the next person then on to the next?
Perhaps somebody should act as a secretary, taking notes as we all came up with ideas? Or maybe we should have a primary drafter, and we would all edit this person’s work afterwards…
And how much of the novel should be written collaboratively, in any event? All of it, or would we have portions that were written by just one author?
Early on we decided that each of us would draft our own character’s chapters. The solo writing has been relatively easy. For the “group” chapters, where all the characters are together and conversing, we decided we needed to draft collaboratively. And we had to figure out a way to do it.
We’ve tried lots of things. I learned how to use the voice recognition software on my computer. I thought maybe the computer could record and type our conversations. How cool would that be? But until somebody tells me otherwise, there ain’t no way it can keep up with the natural pace of even a single speaker, never mind with three of us.
Then we tried recording the conversations on Mary’s smart phone. We did that a couple of times. But that requires transcribing and editing, and who has that kind of time, for heaven’s sake?
Next I had the idea of streaming my computer onto Jean’s TV. I would type and we would all verbally contribute. Not bad. But for some reason it wasn’t ideal. The TV screen seemed too away for all of us to see the text clearly. And I struggled to keep up with the conversation while typing.
Finally, we all sat at Jean’s breakfast bar for a couple of hours with our own computers, talking, drafting, munching on snacks, laughing and typing. (We’ve learned to save most of the drinking of wine until after the drafting!) Mary then volunteered (bless you, my friend) to take a stab at drafting her version of the first group chapter based on her notes of that session. She emailed it to Jean and me. We edited the email with different colored texts and blocking, adding and subtracting changes, until we all felt we had something we were pretty happy with.
And voila! Our first collaborative chapter!
Last week-end we went back to the streaming-my-computer-to-Jean’s-TV-monitor approach. I enlarged the text so we could all see it. It worked better the second time. I imagine we’ll continue to refine our co-drafting skills as we go along. We’ll keep you posted (no pun intended)!!