How can two lawyers be better than one?
Taking advantage of the synergy of different talents and experience.
When we do book-signing events and school programs for students, we often get questions like: What’s it like writing together as co-authors? Do each of you write specific chapters? Do you brainstorm together first, and then decide who writes what? And if in writing the story, there is a major shift in plot, how does the one writer know whether or not to go with the change?
|We enjoy bouncing ideas|
off our readers.
So far, we have enjoyed working together as co-authors. As brothers, we get along well, and have a healthy level of mutual self-respect, so we can freely share ideas and challenge each other without worrying too much about egos. Each of us has had a career in law, and as lawyers, we were constantly dealing with other lawyers, who often had overblown egos. When we came together as writers, we had already had much experience in working around another person’s ego while still getting the job done.
In addition, we grew up just a few years apart in a very large family, and then, we each went on to have large families of our own. While there is not much room for any over-sized egos in a large family, there are certain qualities, like peace-making and courtesy that are highly prized. Both of us have been extensively trained in the qualities of kindness. Finally, we both have strong-willed wives, and if we can work jointly with them in a close, personal family relationship, then we can certainly work jointly as brothers in the less intense environment of storytelling.
We have found our differences in personality and experience to be a distinct advantage and are more creative when we’re bouncing ideas off each other and discussing a broad story line, but we brainstorm only in a general way. We actually write separately, and then confer later on what we have been doing, including any plot shifts. Though we sometimes disagree on wording, there is usually some friendly give and take as we consider alternatives, then we quickly agree on the final wording. We both appreciate the different perspective and skills the other brings to the joint writing process.
We are very different in how we approach the creation of a new story. Andy used to be a planner (a habit that came from writing as a lawyer), but in fiction writing, he no longer likes to plan ahead. He likes to develop his characters, and then let them take the story wherever it is going to go—he likes to be surprised. On the other hand, I am definitely still a planner. I am always making lists and outlines, not only for the current story, but for future stories as well. In addition to our young adult horror series, we also have written the first two books in a young adult science-fiction series. Separately, Andy is working on a literary fiction novel about an old lawyer dying from cancer, a story close to his heart.
Andy doesn’t like having other people around him when he is writing, especially when he is creating new material. There is no real reason for this, just sometimes people bug him. I have to organize my surrounding work environment. Once everything around me is in order, then I can detach from the real world and write in the strange, new worlds of my mind.
If Andy hits a tough spot in the story development, it is almost always because of outside distractions. If he can get rid of the confusion and noise around him, he can keep writing. He does best when he can find large blocks of undisturbed time. If I hit a tough spot, I don’t try to force it. I stop, leave the house, pick up some fast food (Chipotle is always good), and then I can come back refreshed and ready to move the story forward. I find that fresh ideas come naturally when I am eating.
We both find that once we start telling a horror or sci-fi story, the bounds of the story are limited only by our combined creativity and imagination, and that no matter how mature we might be in the real world, we are both still just kids in our worlds of horror and fantasy. It is hard to get better than that.