A Guide to Co-Authoring: Six Fantastic Techniques to Share the Load

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

-Helen Keller

Before I joined any writing community, the only readers for my works were my family, friends and sometimes my teachers and mentors. I felt that their affection towards me made them a little biased and I never received the critical feedback that I needed to take my work to the next level. 

Three years back, I joined a writers community where our peers were our first readers and mentors acted as literary critics. They edited our work and suggested various ways of improvement.

It is there that I learnt to grow by sharing. 

I even had a chance to collaborate with a fellow writer on a poem — and the experience was refreshing. I first came across the concept of co-authoring in a post on Co-Authors. It inspired me to research further, brainstorm and come up with a few techniques through which writers can collaborate to create their best work yet.  

The Write craft

At Mith Books, we are a community of authors who support other authors. We collaborate with other writers like ourselves in a multitude of different ways.

By sharing a wide range of interests and skills, we are able to create more original and nuanced work. Through this process, we nurture our own writing and take it to the next level. We create an environment where each author has the opportunity to grow and groom each other into their best. 

from above multiracial colleagues working with papers and laptop on floor in office

1. Chapter-Wise Split

This is the most convenient style of co-authoring. Here the authors divide the workload by splitting the chapters either alternatively or as per plot requirements and suitability.

This works best with a plot where there are two protagonists and the story is told from the perspective of both. One author can write the chapters on protagonist A and another can write on protagonist B. The chapters can even be set in an alternate pattern to tell the same tale from two different viewpoints. 

The advantage: the book genuinely has two different author voices. This enhances its authenticity and originality. 

2. Theme-Wise Split

This is another method of co-authoring. This works best for a story that crosses multiple genres. Suppose the book is a Romantic Thriller; then, one writer can write the romantic parts and the other concentrates on the thriller.

This way, the shift in author’s voice becomes less prominent as the tone of romance ought to be different from the tone of the thriller. Plus, it also allows authors to stay in the genre they are comfortable in and yet produce a great work of art. 

book chapter six

3. One Plots, Another Writes

This method is a little different to chapter-wise and theme-wise splits. In this method, one writer gives the detailed plot summary of each chapter and another weaves the story around the plot.

Sometimes it may so happen that a person has a great plot idea – but doesn’t have the time or experience to put it into words. Many good plots get drowned in the sea of oblivion because of that. This is often the case with non-fiction books that require the services of a ghostwriter

With co-authoring, this is made quite easy.

One may find it hard to write down a book chapter by chapter, but that doesn’t make them any less of a writer. Writing a detailed plot can be as challenging as writing a novel.

For a book, the plot is the king; and once that is set by one author, it becomes easy for the co-author to weave a tale around it. The second writer doesn’t need to worry about plot developments at all while penning down the novel. They can happily dedicate all their concentration towards writing the chapters on the plot already given to them.    

Co Author 1

4. One Writes, Another Edits

Authors often describe the process of bringing a book into the world as equivalent to having a baby. If the author is the mother giving birth to a precious child, the editor is the midwife that pushes the author through the process of labour. 

It might seem to be an unequal division of workload, but it isn’t. 

A writer is a terrible judge of their own books. They consider their novels as their babies and don’t seem to find any fault with them. While this is completely understandable on their part, it is kind of dangerous once the book reaches readers. And it is where the editor comes in—balancing the bridge between the reader and the writer.

This method gives the writer the liberty to write as they please, without worrying much about the plot-holes or grammatical mistakes. That can well be taken care of by the editor-cum-co-author

The Publication Journey

5. One Spins the Dialogues, One Describes the Scenes

This method is followed by a lot of co-authors where one is good at writing dialogues and another excels at descriptive scenes. 

It is not that tough, if the writers are very clear about the plot—where to add the dialogues and where a pure description or narration would suffice. 

It also blurs the difference in the author’s voice as dramatic dialogues and omniscient narration are bound to have two completely different tones.

6. The Storyteller and The Poet

This is our invention for an innovative book that combines storytelling with poetry. Here one writer can tell a story chapter-wise and another can add a poem at the end of each chapter based on the theme or the emotion which that particular chapter reveals.

Weaving poetry requires a different skillset to writing a story. Brevity, emotional appeal, choice of words, diction and all sorts of poetic devices are at play together to create a remarkable piece of poetry.

This style can be used to breathe fresh life into prose. 

Co Author 2

Next Steps

For a majority of authors, writing a book is a solitary affair. By collaborating with other authors in a plethora of ways, we can truly nurture our work and take it to the next level.

Which of the above co-authoring possibilities appeal to you? How does it empower you to do more together than you ever could alone?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

FB_IMG_1584556771385Sanchari Das is currently pursuing her Masters in English. She devotes her free time to writing, painting, singing and enhancing her photography skills. The author of three books, Sanchari dreams to inspire millions through her writing. Born with a Piscean heart beaming with creativity, she is ever ready to embark upon new ventures and discover all the hidden sides to her personality.

 

About the Co-Author

Dipa Sanatani Close up photoDipa Sanatani is the Merchant of Stories. She delights in gazing out at the ocean and jumping in. She sees life as one great adventure and is an ardent student of the human experience. She is the author of The Little Light and the Founder of Mith Books. She works in a top secret day job. 

Author: Mith Books

Mith Books | The Merchant of Stories | Timeless Tales from Around the World

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