The secret to collaborative writing is easy. Be generous and supportive.
Don’t make things harder for your partner by putting their hero in a surprise tough spot (though, come to think of it, I’ve done that). Don’t strive to write stylishly and let your partner work on their own (I’ve done that too) or leave your chapter-ending vague in order to give your partner scope (ooooh! and that too). Do make sure that your partner knows where you are both going (I should really work on that) and – wait for it – make your partner’s hero look good.
And it’s just being nice. When you meet a friend on the street, do you ignore them? Do you comment on the bags under their eyes, their runny nose, coffee breath, uncombed hair, stained sweatshirt or undone shoelaces? (I had an ‘Oh dear!’ moment in front of the mirror earlier this morning.) No you don’t. You say, “Great to see you!” You ask if that’s a new top or a recent haircut, or if they’ve been working out.
The chapter I sent to Melanie yesterday has our dynamic duo preparing to make a video together. There are a couple of clever lines, a piece of important insight, and a moment where someone has to save the day. Every one of those opportunities goes to Mel’s hero, Adele. My guy Kyle does nothing except stammer and drop the camera. Adele looks really good.
She has got to appreciate that.
Of course, I then introduced a weird complication we hadn’t discussed, and left her holding what amounts to a ticking bomb.
I’m sure she’ll figure out how to defuse it. And thank her lucky stars she has such a generous and supportive partner.