Sunday, June 7, 2009

How do you write together (without killing each other)?

by Joyce and Jim Lavene

You know, more people ask us this question than any other!

Most people want to hear how many big fights we have or how many times one of us sleep on the sofa because we’re angry about a character or a plot twist. But the truth is, we hardly ever argue about what we’re writing.

We argue over kids, money, yard work, taking out the garbage, feeding the cat . . . well, you get the idea. We disagree over lots of things like everyone else. But not the writing.

We have a very simple rule: if we don’t agree, it doesn’t go in the book. You can try to convince the other person to your way of thinking (chocolate works best) but in the end, we have to agree. Both of our names are on it, after all.

Our process? We take one of the hundreds of ideas we come up with each year (like GHASTLY GLASS) and we work it up into a long synopsis, usually while we’re driving on some back road. Jim drives and I write because he gets carsick if he doesn’t look at the road.

We usually do this while we’re working on something else so we have time to fill in all the questions and answers before we start working. When we’re finally ready to write the rough draft, we sit down at back-to-back monitors and tell each other the story from beginning to end. Jim types because my stupid cat has to sprawl where my keyboard should be. Then we edit and edit and edit. Then we send it out to agent and editor.

And someday (usually about 9 months later) it comes back to us in its cute cover and we’re amazed that we really wrote it. Of course, we’re already working on something else, and arguing over who has to do the food shopping that week!